A Letter to Jack Layton

Dear Jack Layton,

Even though we had never met, I always felt a personal connection to you as a person and as a politician — as did many Canadians, who referred to you simply as “Jack.” Your honest, sincere and genuine nature sparked my interest and engagement in politics. I felt that you were one of the few politicians who was trustworthy and who truly believed in working in the public’s interests.

When I read about your passing on the morning of August 22, I felt completely shocked and profoundly saddened by the news. Your party’s accomplishments following the May 2 federal election were outstanding, winning a record 103 seats and becoming the official Opposition for the first time in the party’s history. Your party also had an historic breakthrough in Quebec, winning 59 out of the 75 seats. You were riding high on the “orange wave” when this tragedy struck.

Your last letter to Canadians was nothing short of inspiring. The fact that you dedicated a portion of your letter to address young Canadians was touching. I know many young Canadians became interested in politics and chose to vote this past election because of your optimism, dedication to building a better Canada for all citizens, and honesty. You inspired a generation of young voters including myself. Your personal qualities were admirable and comparable to those of other visionary leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama.

You were a visionary and I greatly respected you for fighting for causes and issues you strongly believed in. Even those who may not have supported your party’s vision, still respected your enthusiasm, optimism and determination. You believed in the future of Canada. You believed in change. And you inspired hope. As a recent Globe and Mail article stated, “Layton’s death shows Canada’s hunger for politicians who inspire.”

Your dedication to building a better, equitable and fairer Canada, lifelong passion for politics, charisma, optimism and hope were so inspiring to me. Your actions and words taught me to always stand up for what I believe in, to work hard to accomplish my goals and to never give up on anything. If you believe something can happen, it is possible. I want to thank you for sparking my interest, involvement and enthusiasm for politics. Your love for Canada, public service, people and politics will always be remembered, and your energy, passion and determination will inspire many generations of young Canadians in the future.
Thank you for your commitment to building a better country for everybody, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or race. Canadians lost a truly extraordinary and highly respected leader this summer.

Even if you didn’t support Jack Layton’s politics, the final paragraph of his letter should be a motto that we should all strive to live by.

As Jack would say: “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.”

Brittany Thiessen

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