Hearing that Jack Layton had died on August 22, 2011 was like getting the wind knocked out of me. It was not altogether unexpected; the media had reported on his battle with cancer and he had stepped down as leader of the NDP. But still hearing of his passing was something completely different. I know I wasn't the only one who felt like this. It might stem from my own personal and political biases, but it really did seem like Canada as a whole was grieving. Many people rallied around Jack Layton's final letter to Canadians, written in his last days. It ended with the lines: "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."
This eBook shares this letter in its entirety in the open pages of the book. Reading it again was still an emotional experience. After Layton's letter there are essays by many prominent figures:Brad Fraser, Craig Kielburger, David Miller, James Bartleman, Jane Doe, Pat Capponi, Pierre-Luc Dusseault, Rex Murphy, Rick Smith, Steven Page, Svend Robinson, and Tzeporah Berman. These memorials tell of Layton's commitment to the causes and issues that he cared about so deeply: the environment, AIDS, violence against women, Aboriginal rights, poverty, and many more. They trace Layton from local politics to the national stage to leader of the official opposition in 2011's historic election. These celebrations of Layton are joined by the text of Steven Lewis' eulogy from Layton's state funeral. There will undoubtedly be more books written about Jack Layton in the years ahead, but this one has managed to capture the sense of his death in a way that I doubt others will. This is a special glimpse into the life - personal, private, and that area where they overlap - of a man who Canada lost too soon.
I read a review copy at NetGalley courtesy of Random House.
It can be purchased online and net proceeds from the sales go to the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and Shannen's Dream.
Read it with:
Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis by Jack Layton
Speaking Out: Ideas that Work For Canadians by Jack Layton
Speaking Out Louder: Ideas that Work For Canadians by Jack Layton