If I may firstly offer my apologies to those who have ever read this blog, my reasons for not posting in quite some time are various. But, I shall not bore you with them, just know that now that the summer is winding down and we're coming into another provincial election here in Ontario, I shall be writing much more often. But, I digress...
Jack Layton, the former leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada died on Monday, August 22nd, 2011 in the early morning hours. About a week ago from when I am writing this entry.
I figured I would let things return to a near state of normalcy, if you will, before writing this entry. As many in Canada do know, there has been much media coverage of the death of Mr. Layton, and a grieving period that can still be considered happening.
Our Prime Minister, the Honourable Mr. Stephen Harper, offered the MP for Trinity-Spadina, Olivia Chow, the option of a state funeral for her late husband, to which she agreed and accepted.
The offering by the Prime Minister of a state funeral to the Leader of the Official Opposition was unprecedented, and something Canadians should be very happy the Prime Minister chose to do.
The funeral itself, which occurred at Roy Thomson Hall in downtown Toronto (the corner of King St. and Simcoe St., for those who would like to look it up) drew an immense crowd from all over the country.
Inside the venue itself was assigned seating for about 1800 invitees and about 600 members of the general public.
I was one of those 600 (and still am wearing the bracelet to prove it).
After arriving at the lineup shortly after midnight on Saturday morning (August 27, 2011), my girlfriend (also a member of both the Conservative Party of Canada and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives) and I took our places as numbers 100 and 101 in the lineup that was already in place. We waited all night, until 8:00am that morning to receive the coveted bracelets guaranteeing our seats inside Roy Thomson Hall for the proceedings that afternoon.
The funeral itself was an excellent "Celebration of Life" for Jack Layton. There were many very emotional moments and others where a standing ovation dominated the venue. The sheer intensity of the entire experience is something I will surely never forget. In my opinion, I cannot think of a better farewell to as great a man and as excellent a politician as Mr. Layton.
Before I finish this entry, I feel the need to explain my attendance to those who may read this and wonder why I would bother.
You may see it in the light that I attended the funeral of a political opponent, a man whose shared next to no political ideals with me personally, and a man who I made a concerted effort to keep from office in this past election.
But I beg you to see my choice as I see it. I attended the funeral of a man who was loved by so many Canadians and respected by so many politicians. He was a man of principle and most certainly a man of his word. He held to his ideals no matter what others tried to throw at him or how hard they tried to tear them down. He spoke up for those that needed to be spoken up for, and above all he dedicated the majority of his life to the service of fellow Canadians, to a broader public that desperately needed a man such as Jack.
He gave people hope.
Not many politicians have that to their credit.
"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."
-- Jack Layton, 1950-2011