Leadership, Vision

A Loss

About ten minutes ago the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation released this statement:

NDP Leader Jack Layton has died at age 61 after a long battle with cancer, CBC News has learned. Layton died at his home in Toronto early Monday, surrounded by family, according to a statement from his wife, Olivia Chow, and his children, Sarah and Michael Layton.
My immediate gut response was “Tragic”. As the twitterverse pours out condolences and tributes I want to add my own 2 cents. Jack Layton was (in my estimation) quite possibly the most gifted leader Canadian politics has seen since Pierre Trudeau. While I didn’t always agree with him on matters of policy I found myself drawn to his passion, charisma, and clear vision for what our country could be. He led a perennially third place party with courage and was something of a terrier at the feet of those in power; constantly calling them to consider the needs of the least and the overlooked. While many of my fellow Christians dismissed Jack (it never seemed right to call someone so earnest and grassroots by anything more formal than Jack) because he differed from their conservative take on the few issues that have sadly come to represent everything to Evangelical voters; I saw him representing a prophetic voice in many ways. Jack never left any doubt what he stood for, he persevered for years as Canadians generally didn’t support his party, he withstood criticism with humour and boldness, and he eventually reached his political apex in an all to brief role as leader of the official opposition. He was ideal for that chair. He challenged the Prime Minister on matters of social well-being, justice, and ethics. His comfort in the media was a contrast to the cautious defensiveness of the Conservatives. He sometimes went overboard, which is the privilege of knowing that you don’t have the authority to do what you are demanding. I am sad this morning, even though I don’t think I ever voted for Jack’s party. I am concerned for the next few years as our Opposition will be led by someone with less experience and far less panache. The dynamic tension that brings out the best in our parliament will be diminished. Of course, the greatest loss is for his family, but they are people I only know from news reports. RIP Jack. In a time when our country is in great need of true leadership you represented something powerful and profound. May your legacy produce more of your kind.