He was one of Canada’s strongest leaders, who truly believed that you can succeed if you work hard enough. That’s what he proved when he was elected the leader of the Official Opposition of Canada this past spring, in a landslide victory that garnered his party the most seats in Canadian history.
Even if you did not believe in his views, Canadians admired Jack Layton for staying true to his beliefs and attempting to change the Canadian political landscape. Skeptics like myself didn’t even consider the NDPs a party to watch until this election, when Layton’s expertise, vision and strong leadership touched millions of Canadians. I was once told at a conference that, realistically, only two parties in Canada were competing to lead Canada: the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. Layton proved that those who underestimated him were wrong.
Jack Layton was passionate about change in every aspect. He brought five young students to Ottawa, elected as Members of Parliament. When faced with criticism over their lack of experience and knowledge, Layton stood by them and again emphasized that youth were not apathetic or indifferent.
When I met Jack Layton in Ottawa a few months ago, I was struck by his charisma, strong interpersonal skills and his clear passion for what he did. I don’t agree with the majority of his party’s platform, but it is evident that he did with every fibre in his being and would never be told that his party was a mere fringe party that could never make a difference. He spoke proudly for what his party believed in and took countless questions from the audience – tough ones too I might add. I left the room feeling that he was definitely cut out to be a leader of Canada.
In this difficult time, my sincere thoughts go out to his family and friends. Ottawa won’t be the same without him.