Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who Said There Were no Longer Any Great Speeches?

"Let us not look behind us, let's look forward, look at what we can accomplish together to make sure Jack's voice is not silenced" Olivia Chow
In today's world of sound bites and talking points, we rarely hear any great political speeches.

But yesterday, Stephen Lewis delivered one of the most impassioned speeches that I've heard in a very long time.
Never in our collective lifetime have we seen such an outpouring, so much emotional intensity, from every corner of this country. There have been occasions, historically, when we've seen respect and admiration but never so much love, never such a shocked sense of personal loss.

Jack was so alive, so much fun, so engaged in daily life with so much gusto, so unpretentious, that it was hard while he lived to focus on how incredibly important that was to us, he was to us. Until he was so suddenly gone, cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career.
He was so right.

I never liked Jack Layton in the House. He always looked so stiff and was often nasty. But away from that environment, he lit up. Much better at dealing with people than politicians.

But as inspiring as Lewis was, the best speech was left undelivered. Jack Layton's letter and his final words.
"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."
As many of you know, I was angry with Jack, but only becasue of his political choices, and I'm sure he was not without his own regrets.

I'm so over that now and more determined than ever to fight the neoconservative/Religious Right disease.

Thank you Mr. Layton. You will be missed.


  1. That final letter -- so powerful that it should be required reading for every student in every school in Canada and their parents/guardians. Canada so desperately needs a hero, especially one who embodies and practices integrity and decency. Sometimes we only recognize our heroes in death but then the task for us is to keep their legacy alive.

  2. Exactly, Emily. I was so disappointed with some of Jack's choices, but now I feel my eyes filling with tears whenever I see his name, or Olivia's.
    I hope the members of the New Democratic Party light up with the memory of Jack's enthusiasm and carry that enthusiasm, on his behalf, to defeat the neocons.
    Let's not allow the so-called "religious" right to slaughter the NDP as they boastingly did the Liberals.

  3. Thank you for letting the ice melt. Many of us were angry with Jack because of some of his political choices but now it is certainly the time to let that drop and use Jack's positive side to bind us as a progressive force: Onward and upward...

  4. Well said Emily and I agree. After the horrifying results of the last election I wrote to all of the opposition leaders to let them know how disappointed I was that they, together, were sending Canadians into 4 years of a Harper majority with a toothless opposition. I needed the summer to step back feel calm and know I feel ready to move forward and I do respect Jack Layton's dedication to so many worthy causes. History, removed from the emotion of the past weeks, will give an objective account of the legacy of the leaders of this turning point in Canadian history. My personal hope is that the outpouring of emotion may be the beginning of a political awakening in this country and that looking back at Jack Layton's commitment and life of service to others will inspire others. Hope is better than fear.