Thursday, August 25, 2011

'What stands out about Jack Layton'

I'm in Ottawa this week and couldn't attend Wednesday evening's tribute for Jack Layton at Harbourside Park in downtown St. John's. I wrote the following note, which was read by Matt White from my office.

For me, what stands out about Jack Layton, what stands out above all else, is the Saturday afternoon in April when he came to St. John's for an election rally.

Jack had suffered through cancer - he was still suffering through a broken hip, and was walking with a cane.

It was my job to introduce Jack, and when I did he practically skipped up the stairs (cane in hand) and leapt on stage.

That showed a strength and depth of charactter (keeping in mind that Jack was probably sicker than he let on) that you don't see in many people, that you don't see in many leaders.

It's one thing to run in a federal election campaign, to lead a party in a federal campaign.

It's quite another to do so when you're fighting for your life.

Jack Layton was an inspiration.

Those were my thoughts today when, along with my fellow New Democrat MPs, I filed past Jack Layton's coffin.

I signed a condolence book and wrote a short comment: "An honour."

Outside Parliament, near the Centennial Flame, there's a make-shift wall of tribute to Jack , where members of the general public have dropped off hand-written notes, dozens of cans and bottles of Orange Crush, and flowers.

One note struck me more than any other.

It was a simple message, hand written on a small square of white paper, and held down with a candle.

The note read: "You made my friend Arthur vote."

There can be no greater political tribute.

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