Jack Layton, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP), passed away this morning of cancer. He was 61.
Layton’s passing comes scarcely three and a half months after leading the NDP to their greatest triumph in its half century as a political party, winning 103 seats and Official Opposition status in Canada’s federal election. However, less than a month ago, Layton announced he would temporarily step aside as leader, disclosing that he had a second cancer. Back in February 2010, Layton was diagnosed with prostate cancer which was successfully treated. This time around, however, he did not disclose the type of cancer he had. Layton did say that he planned to be back for the opening of Parliament in September, but many were not optimistic about his prognosis and sadly it came to pass.
I was a card-carrying member of the NDP in my youth but I left the party before Layton became leader. I never met Layton although I did attend a large gathering at his home in Toronto fifteen years ago. Although I profoundly disagreed with most of Layton’s views, he found a way to resonate with Canadians whether they agreed with him or not. He earned the hard won respect of Canadians. Jack Layton was a worthy adversary to Prime Minister Harper and his contributions will be sorely missed in this Parliament and beyond.