JACK LAYTON, A GREAT
MESSAGE A TORCH FOR ALL
JAVED ZAHEER, FREE EXPRESSION AWARD WINNER
TORONTO: Canada and
the people suffered a great loss and the New Democrats (NDP) a great
setback when Jack Layton lost his life in the battle with cancer on August
22, 2011. He was just 61.
After Jack Layton, can NDP maintain the great success, remain
organized and produce charismatic leadership? It will not be easy but
really difficult. NDP will face tough challenges and difficult times. The
vacuum created will be hard to fill. The party has promoted and supported
very young ones as leaders. This is a good sign. It can help bring a real
practical change for the NDP, Canada and the people. Thanks for this,
Good, great and true leaders are indeed a precious Gift of God,
backbone of the country, voice of the people and champions of democracy.
Leaders of such calibre are rarely found. Jack Layton was one of them.
Till the last breath he proved this.
Jack Layton has left us behind sad but not disappointed. Just days
before death, he gave us a message of hope and struggle. In his final
message to Canadians, he stated:
friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is
despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change
In the final letter to Canadians, released on August 20, 2011, he
“Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent
weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your
thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your
spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving
this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in
which I cannot continue.
“I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work
as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected. I recommend
the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on
approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has
ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and
move forward towards the next election.
“A few additional thoughts: To other Canadians who are on
journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please
don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had
hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have
never been better in the face of this disease.
“You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused
on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those
you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.
“To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things
together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New
Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support,
and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our
“There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our
cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by
recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud
history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and
making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward.
Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that
we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.
“To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been
privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings
were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great
deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be
closely watching you in the months to come.
“Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of
members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless
teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of
Canadians in the recent election.
“To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic
decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative
federal government with something better was by working together in
partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country.
“You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision
today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next
election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team
of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable
things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.
“To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things
better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue
to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great
source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you
about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change.
“More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to
change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our
party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with
you my belief in your power to change this country and this world.
“There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming
nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so
many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more
inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision,
your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You
need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans
for the present and the future.
“And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of
the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater
equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and
a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our
seniors. We can offer better futures for our children.
“We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can
restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because
we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real
choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually
bring about change.
“In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a
compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an
impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the
alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal
country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and
optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
All my very
Over four elections under Jack Layton, the New Democrats grew from
13 MPs to 103, while quadrupling its national vote. That included
breakthroughs in Alberta, Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador.
Jack Layton turned the New Democrats into a real political
alternative, reshaping Parliament and giving hope to millions of Canadians
who wish for a brighter future.
In 2011, Jack Layton brought the party to unprecedented heights.
Canadians elected a record-breaking 103 NDP MPs, representing every part
of the country.
Jack Layton became leader of the largest Official Opposition in 31
years—and the first formed by New Democrats. With 59 Quebec MPs,
Layton’s team emerged not only as a credible government-in-waiting, but
as a force for Canadian unity. Through it all, Layton took strength from
his family—his partner, and fellow Member of Parliament, Olivia Chow,
children Sarah and Mike, and his granddaughter Beatrice.
Jack Layton’s torch will now be carried by every person who
believes in a better tomorrow, every person who believes in dignity for
our seniors and better opportunity for our youth – and by every person
who believes through working together, we can make our great country even
BRIEF BIO: John Gilbert "Jack" Layton, PC (July 18, 1950
– August 22, 2011) was a Canadian social democratic politician and the
Leader of the Official Opposition. He was the leader of the New Democratic
Party from 2003 to 2011, and previously sat on Toronto City Council,
serving at times during that period as acting mayor and deputy mayor of
Toronto. He was the Member of Parliament for the constituency of
Toronto—Danforth from 2004 until his death.
The son of a Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, Jack Layton
was raised in Hudson, Quebec. He rose to prominence in Toronto municipal
politics where he was one of the most prominent left-wing voices on city
and Metropolitan Toronto councils, and was also a Board member for the
Toronto Port Authority.
In 1991, he ran for mayor, but lost to June Rowlands. Remaining on
council he rose to become head of the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities. In 2003, he was elected head of the NDP on the first
ballot of the convention. Under his leadership, the NDP considerably
increased their support, almost doubling the party's popular vote in the
2004 election, though vote splitting with the Liberals limited their gain
Jack Layton's NDP held balance of power in Paul Martin's minority
government, where in May 2005 the NDP supported the Liberal budget in
exchange for major amendments, in what was promoted as Canada's
"First NDP budget".
In November of that year, Jack Layton worked with other opposition
parties in bringing down the Liberal government over the findings of the
The NDP saw
further gains in the 2006 and 2008 elections, in which the party won more
seats than it had since its 1980s peak.
The NDP's tally of 37 MPs under Layton in the 2008 election was
just six seats short of the party's previous all-time high under Ed
Broadbent. The success of the NDP in the 2011 election was unprecedented,
making Jack Layton the most successful leader electorally in the party's
history in terms of seats won (103).
FINAL DAYS: In his final days, Jack Layton directed his aides about
how he wanted to be remembered and crafted a two-page letter to Canadians.
“To my knowledge it has never been done before,” his friend and
political mentor Ed Broadbent said. “There he is dying, the last 48
hours, and he is trying to send a very specific political message and he
was well aware of that and to do it publicly.”
Part of his vision, too, was the request for memorial donations to
the new institute for social democrat thinking that bears Mr.
Millions mourned Jack Layton’s passing away and would always miss
him. He was a very good person and great friend of Pakistanis and
supported them a lot. He could be seen in the Pakistani and South Asian
community’s major and minor events, particularly at the community centre
at Gerard Street, Toronto.
Jack Layton fully enjoyed the Pakistani and South Asian gatherings
and events. He mixed freely with them like a family. He very much loved
and was loved by all. This is why he will always be remembered and greatly
missed. Jack was a truly respected leader. A state funeral was held for
him. He deserved the tributes, respect and love.
---Javed Zaheer (JAZA/JAYZEE/JZEE),
Free Expression Award Winner, Desi Idol Recognition Award Winner,
Member/Honorary Director of NEPMCC, Veteran Active Member (VAM) of Toronto
Press Club, Ex-Member of The National Club and The Ontario Club, Honorary
Editor of English Weekly `Pakistan Abroad’, ex-Chief Editor (Honorary)
of English Weekly `The Ambassador’, ex-Senior Sub-Editor of English
Daily DAWN, Pakistan, Chairman, CANOPI, and Director, Canpak Camber of
Commerce, is contributing purely on Voluntary and Honorary Basis in order
to serve all people and communities. Contact: (416)firstname.lastname@example.org.To
read more JZ’s exclusive articles, please visit the following websites:
www.letstree.com (Pressing needs section), nepmcc.ca
and nationalethnicpress.com (Home
Pages & Editorial Sections. Scan years from 2004 onwards).