Yet again, it all comes together. I was late with the blog this week -- forgot about it completely in the busyness of yesterday -- but then writing it today worked out to be even better.
Broadbent Institute, a new think tank dedicated to social democracy. Not exactly a cause suggested by others (it is the 4th Friday of the month after all), but by Jack Layton's death this week. (His family asked that donations in his honour be directed towards strengthening the work of the Institute). As we were unpacking boxes this afternoon, I uncharacteristically turned on the television, looking for some Saturday afternoon distraction, and stumbled upon the live feed of Jack Layton's funeral. Not only did it jog my memory about doing the blog, but it affirmed this week's choice and gave me the privilege of basking in Jack Layton's presence one final time.
For my dear readers not in Canada (or living under a rock), Jack Layton was a determined and inspiring social democratic politician, the leader of Canada's official Opposition, elected to that post just in May 2011. You can read about his legacy here and watch his diverse funeral service (complete with a eulogy by Stephen Lewis and the Parachute Club singing 'Rise Up') here. I feel as though I can't write any more here than has already been written about him in tribute. I will say that I was blindsided by how hard his death has shaken me -- someone he'd never met or influenced directly. How much more so the countless others whose lives he touched more personally! The sketch of his face as the full page cover story in the Globe and Mail took my breath away unexpectedly in the grocery store. (I couldn't find a link to it on-line, but love the photo of this impromptu memorial in chalk at Nathan Phillips Square.)
It seems most fitting today therefore to fill this space not with my words, but with his. So it is my honour to reprint an excerpt from Jack Layton's final letter to Canadians, crafted with great care less than 48 hours before his death:
Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
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.