The flags outside of Burlington City Hall were lowered to half mast after the news that Jack Layton, the leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) had passed away in the morning hours of Monday, August 22 at the age of 61.
Jack Layton announced he was fighting prostate cancer earlier this year and underwent an operation to fix a fractured hip that he disclosed was not caused by his cancer. He went on to carry out a rigorous campaign during the last federal election, using his cane as a symbol of his tenacity. The election brought Layton his party’s best showing ever in federal politics, making him the Leader of the Official Opposition.
In late July, an obviously ill Layton held a press conference in Toronto, announcing that he was battling a new form of cancer and that he was stepping aside to focus on his health. At the press conference, Layton emphasized that he would return to politics in time for the fall session. In the interim, rookie Member of Parliament Nycole Termel was named interim NDP leader.
In a letter written two days before his passing, Layton encouraged Canadians to continue working to make Canada a great nation. He closed his letter by saying:
“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” – Jack Layton
To read Layton’s letter to Canadians in its entirety, go to NDP.ca. Funeral details are still being finalized but its believed that a State Funeral will be held in Toronto on Saturday, August 27.