JACK LAYTON (1950-2011) : Tributes Pour In After Canada Loses A Genuine Champion Of The Little Guy

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By R. Paul Dhillon

OTTAWA – Tributes and accolades poured in from across Canada for former NDP leader Jack Layton  who was a genuine champion of the working class and a politician of great person integrity and principles

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) offered its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Layton, who passed away Monday morning of cancer at the age of 61.

WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “Jack Layton’s passing is a loss for all Canadians.  I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Layton on several occasions and was always impressed by his sincerity and dedication.  Mr. Layton stood with Canadian Sikhs when it mattered, whether it was defending the right of Canadian Sikhs to wear the kirpan, or raising a voice for the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide or whether it was demanding a public apology for the Komagata Maru tragedy.  Jack Layton’s courage will serve as an inspiration for many years to come.”

WSO Senior Policy Advisor Gian Singh Sandhu said, “Jack Layton’s commitment to human rights and social justice were exemplary.  He had the courage to speak out when others did not.  Canadian Sikhs had a true friend in Jack Layton and he will be sorely missed.”

“I was deeply saddened by the news of Jack Layton’s passing,” said BC NDP leader Adrian Dix.

“Jack was an extraordinary leader and an even more extraordinary person. His impact was such that his loss feels to many of us like a loss in our own family.

“While the country is the poorer for Jack’s passing, Canada is richer for his immense contribution over a lifetime in politics. Wherever he went and whoever he met, Jack made his mark with his optimism, dynamism and boundless energy.

“Jack Layton had a special ability to connect with the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people and young people especially. He was always focused on bringing positive change to Canada and we saw that in the extraordinary results in the last election.

“As we grieve, we also commit ourselves to continue to build on his legacy and the principals he fought for all his political life.”

“When I last spoke with Jack following his announcement in July, I wished him well and he told me he’d be seeing me in the House of Commons in the Fall,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“This, sadly, will no longer come to pass.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I salute Jack’s contribution to public life, a contribution that will be sorely missed.

“I know one thing: Jack gave his fight against cancer everything he had. Indeed, Jack never backed down from any fight.

“Like all Canadians, Arlene and I are deeply saddened by the death of Jack Layton,” said federal Liberal leader Bob Rae. “He was a friend of ours for many years, and despite our political differences his decency, good humour and extraordinary resilience earned our deep admiration.  We remained friends throughout our political lives.

“On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus, I express our deep condolences to Olivia and Jack’s family, as well as to his colleagues and friends in the New Democratic Party.  He leaves a powerful legacy of a commitment to social justice in his work in Toronto as a city councillor and as a national leader.

“Peace, brother, peace.”

Layton’s NDP MP colleague Jasbir Sandhu said his leader was an inspiration to people of all political backgrounds because of who he was.

“His honesty, integrity and commitment shone through. Everyone felt like they knew Jack because he was exactly who he said he was.  He genuinely cared,  and he fought for issues that mattered most to people in such a positive and effective way. His leadership is what inspired me to run for office,” he said.

“On Monday I had to explain to my young son, who met Jack many times and loved him, that Jack had passed away. He asked me, “Who will fix Ottawa now?”

“Jack’s leadership will continue through the strong movement he has built. We have a strong, unified, Official Opposition that will hold this government to account and fight for families.”

“A passionate Canadian, Jack Layton was a tireless advocate and his energy,

dedication and intelligence have been at the service of Canadians since his

days as a municipal politician,” said BC Premier Christy Clark.

“Mr. Layton inspired Canadians during his first battle with cancer and we

were all behind him during his second courageous fight.

“He was a dedicated public servant who earned the respect of Canadians for

his clear desire to build a better country and his constant goodwill.”

“Jack Layton is remembered by many across political lines for his courage, energy, passion, hopefulness, sense of humour, and compassion. He was firm in his commitment to social justice, to the elimination of poverty and homelessness and to equality of opportunity. He was a champion of peace and a defender of the environmental integrity of the planet,” South Asian activist organization SANSAD wrote in a pres release.

“Many people who had lost hope found hope through Jack Layton. Many young people came to parliamentary politics through him. Jack Layton’s death will no doubt cause them great grief and uncertainty. But the message of Layton’s life and his last words to Canadians will remain forever true: the cause is greater than the individual. Layton’s death will enliven with his spirit the cause he lived so passionately.”