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Sad news has hit the political world in Canada today, as NDP leader Jack Layton has passed away. It was only a few short months ago when Layton was prepping to become Canada’s next Prime Minister. Falling short of that goal, Layton did lead the New Democratic Party to new heights, propelling it to become the official opposition party in the last federal election.
Amazingly, all the while, Layton was bravely battling cancer. You wouldn’t have known it from his strong and energetic demeanor during his campaign, which says a lot about his determination and dedication to being a leader. Layton is survived by his wife, MP Olivia Chow and his children Sarah and Michael.
This morning, David Akin reported that Layton’s family had issued the following statement: “We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday, Aug. 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.”
According to Joanna Smith of the Ottawa Bureau, Layton was primed to be a politician all his life, even though he had aspirations of playing football. She traces his family roots back to a number of born leaders who helped shape Canada to be the widely-respected and forward-thinking country that it is.
His grandfather, Gilbert Layton was a cabinet minister, his father Robert Layton was a chairman of the Conservative caucus. Even his great-grandfather, Philip Layton came to Canada as a blind teenager and founded the Montreal Association for the Blind. Evidently, leadership was in Layton’s family genes.
Whether or not you agreed with his political stance, it is hard to argue that Layton did an excellent job in leading the NDP. This past federal election, the party garnered more seats than it ever had before setting itself up as the official opposition to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
At the end of July, however, Layton was forced to take a leave of absence to battle his second bout with cancer. On his Twitter account, Layton wrote “Your support and well wishes are so appreciated. Thank you…I will fight this and beat it.” We are saddened today to hear that Layton’s fight was lost. He was 61.