Statement from President David Black on the passing of Jack Layton

August 25, 2011

Today Canada lost a fighter and a champion.

It is with great sadness that I learned of Jack Layton’s passing from cancer. He was a remarkable and unique man who left an indelible impression with every person he met. His compassion, energy and vision were second to none. My thoughts are with his family – his wife Olivia; his daughter, Sarah; and his son, Mike.

Jack leaves a rich legacy for Canadians built on the values of the New Democratic Party – inclusion, equality and a better life for all.

Buoyed by his boundless optimism and breadth of vision Jack took the NDP from perennial political outsiders to a government-in-waiting. He accomplished this feat by speaking directly and honestly to Canadians about the values that we all share that stand at the NDP’s core, and how he would express these values as government.

Jack led by example. While he demanded that the people in his team and those around him work very hard, he set the precedent by working impossibly hard himself.

He changed our political landscape by giving Quebecers the opportunity to choose Canada for the first time in a generation, a choice which they heartily embraced as much as they embraced the man himself.

He never once forgot that the New Democratic Party draws its strength from the working people of Canada. He stood tirelessly and unwaveringly with workers, tackling issues such as anti-scab legislation, the Westray Law to hold CEOs accountable for wrongful deaths of employees, public pensions, universal healthcare, and building a green economy for all. Most recently he was a powerful voice on the side of workers at Air Canada and Canada Post, leading a 58-hour marathon filibuster against back-to-work legislation less than three months ago.

Despite the disease that eventually took him from wife Olivia and his children and grandchild, he soldiered on in his dedication to Canada.

In his final words Jack challenged Canadians to continue to lift our sights for ourselves and our society: “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.”

Today we lost a fighter and a champion. But we are inspired by his example and we are the recipients of his legacy. I am grateful for it.


David Black
President, MoveUP