Remembering Jack

ImageOn the 22nd of August, a Monday, Jack Layton passed away. Although we knew it was coming (anyone who had payed attention to his quickly deterioriating condition could hardly hold out much hope for a recovery), we were not ready for it. Spontaneous outpouring of emotion – people crying in public spaces – isn’t normal in Canada, but it happened without apparent direction or organization all across Canada. In Toronto the improvised memorial was a wall at Toronto City Hall – a wall that was covered with chalk writing, covered in hopes, thanks, dreams, and longing.

That day and the week that followed it, culminating in his state funeral, were for those who experienced them nothing less than an event in Canadian history – an event where we recognized collectively what had been achieved, what was possible, and what was needed – and what possibilities for genuine hopefulness exist in a political system of which it is easy to become distraught. For me, and for many others who I spoke with, who passed away that monday was a great political leader – a person of principles and compromise, and emphatically not a tyrant and a sellout of the opportunist’s creed. His passing nearly – and the emphasis is on nearly because I haven’t done it – motivated me to join the NDP.

Thanks Jack.

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4 thoughts on “Remembering Jack

  1. I really don’t understand all this posthumous veneration of Layton. He was just a politician, and the NDP adopted plenty of dubious policy positions during his time.

  2. Our political system requires leaders. Leaders are always imperfect. The need for a leader to not adopt any dubious positions, in the perspective of all of their followers, is I think the single greatest cause of disillusionment and disintegration of the left today.

    1. There is a kind of impotence that accompanies fixation on idealized versions of the dead. I think that’s why the Conservatives made such a show of Layton’s funeral – they knew people who buy into the pageant and avoid using the occasion to seek any meaningful change.

      1. I think the major motivation for making a show of Layton’s funeral was a cheap way of making Harper look bipartisan. It’s easy to praise your foes when they are dead.

        I think social emotions are not meaningless, the mere event of such an outpouring is a revelation to those looking of the amount of visceral support for the vague collection of values that people see Layton as striving for. This is the same social consensus which might make up the militant opposition of organized labour, or support of other non-state institutions which advance those values rather than the values of the elite.

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