The Honourable Leader of the NDP, Jack Layton passed away this morning. His loss is something very personal to me. In all my years going through the immigration process, Jack and his wife (and my MP) Olivia Chow were consistent advocates for fairness in the immigration process. When the Tories would propose restrictive changes to immigration policy or some other nonsense impacting the social contract, Layton would always step up to be sure the underdog's point of view was heard and considered.
In contrasting Jack Layton to the politicians that I had grown weary of in the US, he illustrated the best qualities of Canadians: fairness, acceptance, and progressive ideas on social issues. Jack was one of those public figures that convinced me that coming to Canada to be with my love was the right thing to do - that this country could be my home. He convinced me not through anything he said or did directly, but more because of the spirit and idealism - standing up for Canada and Canadians. I can't name any US politicians that ever left me with those feelings about my home country.
I never met him, though my Love had an encounter with him. I'll never forget talking to her one day as she was walking home. As she was sharing something with me, out came a happy laugh - "there goes Jack Layton on his bike!" What that meant to her and meant to me was simple: there goes a good man who walks the walk. Pretty rare.
God bless you, Jack Layton. You made a real difference in people's lives, in my life.