Regardless of one’s politics, the news of the passing of Jack Layton is tragic for everyone. The country has lost a great man who sought to make Canada a better country. A figure in federal politics since 2003, he has contributed immeasurably to the Canadian political dialogue.
As a Public Servant, I fundamentally believe in the non-partisan Public Service, and this post should not be considered a violation of this. I have the greatest respect for all politicians who are present to serve their country. Everyone answers the call to serve their country in different ways, and running for public office has got to be one of the most challenging ways to answer that call.
I wrote last week about living our values. Looking through Jack’s history, he is an excellent example of someone who strived for what he believed in – even if the odds would appear against him. Indeed, the son of a former Cabinet Minister, it must have been challenging to be part of a party that had always been third party status in the Commons. Yet his beliefs kept him with the party that he believed in, as he pushed forth new ideas and sought to raise the standard of debate in Parliament.
While I won’t delve into his politics, I would like to touch on one action that held particular meaning for me. One of the biggest qualities that I admire in people is when they have respect for the institution in which they serve and actively promote that respect. Jack, seeing the decline in the public perception of the House of Commons, implemented a “No Heckling” rule for his caucus. While many pundits disagreed with this rule, the reality was that he respected the institution as one that belongs to Canadians – and Canadians were sick of heckling.
It takes courage to lead, and even greater courage to do so in challenging times. Despite having fought cancer and being the third party prior to the 2011 election, Jack took on these challenges to continue to serve our country.
We all mourn the loss of a great man and a great leader. To close with one of Jack’s favourite quotes: “Courage, my friends; ‘tis not too late to build a better world.” – Tommy Douglas.
RIP Jack Layton (1950-2011)