For Jack

"Nobody is gonna to tell us it can't be done"

Below: A Gathering for Jack in Edmonton
(Note: Alberta traditionally votes Conservative)
Photos :Lou Arab

For those of you unfamiliar with Jack Layton (1950 - 2011), he accomplished feats of politics that few could have imagined his party was capable of a decade ago.


From below the equator in Australia, I recieved this news late, and I wish I could have been home in Edmonton to gather with my fellow Canadians to celebrate his life, to pay my respects to Jack. He was a man of class, undeniable likability and realistic idealism that stood in contrast to the measured doom and gloom and hyperbole that we have come to expect in politics. He fought to protect Canadians rather than corporations, to support environmental sustainability. Even in his campaign ads, he was direct and let us know he was just waiting for the opportunity to work for us, to bring change to Ottawa.

Sadly, I didn't expect him to win the election in 2011, but I imagined he would win the next. It was a great comfort knowing a man of true integrity and compassion was sitting in opposition to Stephen Harper. Being a Canadian abroad it felt safer to know that Jack was there to speak for me and those like me, who hope for a less partisan, and more accountable national dialogue. He brought the concerns of working families to the House of Commons, and spoke out to protect health care and social security. He was a champion for all of us, even those who did not give him their vote. 

The NDP is almost everything that the Conservatives are not, yet despite his status as opposition I have heard Jack speak plainly about the need for the parties to work together for the best interests of Canadians. The NDP have been revived, and it was Jack who put them back on the map, who unbelievably won Quebec. I can only imagine that Tommy Douglas would have been proud to have witnessed Jack's leadership of the NDP. He firmly put the party on course to represent the views of so many of us who wish to bring Canada's inclusiveness, peace-keeping, and tolerance to the forefront of our national identity.

I offer my sincerest condolences to Olivia Chow and all of Jack’s family, colleagues and friends.   Know that Jack made an unmistakably positive, undefeatable impression on so many of us and our thoughts are with you. We have lost a people's hero, and I will take his final quotes as a personal mandate to work towards those shared ideals of love, hope and optimism. We can yet change the world; men like Jack remind me that it is possible.


  1. I watched his funeral on TV today with my husband. It was good to see it.

  2. Amazingly said. And I am very sad he is gone, but so glad I got to see what a true difference he made.