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, Jack. 


            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:


“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.”


            In the final letter to Canadians, released on August 20, 2011, he stated:


            “Dear Friends:


            “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 cause.


            “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 best”:---Jack Layton.


            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 better.


            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 in seats.


            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 Gomery Commission.


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. Broadbent’s name.


            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)696-0981/newsviews@hotmail.com.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).