A letter from Jack Layton (Left with his wife Olivia)

By  | August 22, 2011 | 9 Comments | Filed under: Politics

August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: 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.

All my very best,

Jack Layton


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9 Responses to A letter from Jack Layton (Left with his wife Olivia)

  1. Scot Ferguson-Barber August 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    What a great man.

  2. Bill Kirby August 22, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I believe that Jack Layton was an inspiration to people in the same way the Rene Levesque and Pierre Trudeau were. He displayed an unwavering commitment to his cause and principles.

    You do not have to agree with his politics to be inspired by the person.

    Rest in peace Mr Layton, my thoughts will be with your family and friends in the hope that it will lessen the heaviness of their hearts.

    You will be remembered long after today and have made an indellible mark on every Canadian.

  3. Rick Cowsill August 22, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I met Jack in person Twice. On both occasions we spoke briefly and on both occassions he wanted to know …’How I was doing’. He came across as a very caring man and one who was Genuine. It was an honor to say hello and I will cherish those short but precious times.


  4. Bob Wesley August 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    …An interesting Man. I doubt we’ll see another like him for many years.

  5. Mrs. R.D.M August 22, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Wow. That was really touching…and made me cry:(

  6. karen grant August 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I am so depressed by Jack Layton’s death. He was truly a voice for those who feel that a government should “share and care”. As a born and raised Torontontoian, I met Jack and was impressed by his optimism and confidence. What will we do now? We are overwhelmed by governments that are focused on satisfying “me”. Who now will uphold the notion of caring for the less fortunate?

  7. Scot Ferguson-Barber August 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    “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.”

    those are about to become very famous last words.

  8. Hags August 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    I didn’t know that Layton was a man of faith. According to Bill Blakie, Jack’s friend and one time rival for the NDP leadership….Jack’s life was shaped by his upbringing in church…and Jack believed that God’s will should be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    I didn’t know that Jack was trying to schedule a meeting with Harper, to play a few songs together…but their schedules couldn’t jive.
    I didn’t know that recently, Jack sought out Mulroney to get advice in handling a large Quebec caucus; I just never dreamed that Jack would seek advice from a tained Tory…obviously Jack forgives.
    Didn’t know that it was Jack who made a case for Steve to apologize to native Canadians for the systemic abuse inflicted on them by our state.
    The man truly wanted to work with others for the betterment of all. An impressive man indeed.
    I would encourage readers to check out Christie Blatchfords column today however. It allows us a better view of the man…warts and all.It would not serve Jack well if we inflicted sainthood on him.
    The country is poorer without Jack…and his party may not survive this unkind blow. Pity.

  9. Sandra Hill August 24, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Rest in peace Jack you where an amazing man, and to his family be strong, Cancer is one disease I have experienced many times with my family and friends. We have won some and lost some. I have often asked God why us? Jack hit the nail perfectly with his quote “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”

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