Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Simply... Jack!

I had almost completed composing my next post which chronicled a wonderful visit last Thursday to The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa with my wife Deb, my daughter Allison and her friend and fellow art historian Sharon. We went to see the international blockbuster exhibition entitled: Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome (1592-1606). But that will wait until another day.

I felt compelled to share a post which relates my deep sadness for the loss of an individual who embodies everything that is good in the world... taken far too soon at age 61... at the very pinnacle of his journey when it seemed that his vision for himself... and more importantly, for ordinary Canadians for whom he had toiled so unselfishly... would indeed come to fruition. And we all... as Canadians would be the better for it!

Jack Layton was the federal leader of The New Democratic Party and had just led his party through a tough, and very physically draining campaign for him personally in the late fall. This victory earned him the right to form and to lead the official opposition when Parliament resumed in Ottawa this September. He accomplished this huge upset... while battling prostate cancer and a recently fractured hip.

On July 25th, pale... very emaciated, but still defiant and full of the optimism that he always displayed... he called a news conference to announce to Canadians that he was stepping aside temporarily to battle a new cancer... but that he would be back in September, vowing to fight and beat the disease so that his vision could be carried on.

Yesterday, at 4:45 am in his home and with his beloved wife Olivia and close staff members... Jack Layton lost his final battle to cancer. That fact has plunged all Canadians... no matter party lines into deep grief. We all realize that we have lost some "One"... and at the very same time... something that demonstrates the very Best that can be found in Humankind... anywhere!

Many tributes have been offered unconditionally and without reservation from all parties and walks of life from across Canada. Ordinary people assembled at Parliament Hill yesterday in tribute to "Him". Former Governor General Michaelle Jean offered this tribute... which best parallels my own feelings about Jack Layton's accomplishments and his legacy to Canadians:

"Canada has lost a man of courage and great integrity who embodied the values dearest to Canadians."

And from the tributes of others I will borrow expressions which best described those "values" of which Michaelle Jean attributed to Jack Layton: fundamental decency... passionate dedication...love of country... courageous... legacy of commitment... humanity... a rare state of grace... and that list is endless.

But perhaps the greatest measure of the man is revealed in a letter that he wrote to his fellow Canadians just two days before his life ended. In facing the prospect of his life ending... and separation forever from Olivia... he composed this magnanimous and immeasurably powerful letter to be read to all Canadians. His last message was to be one of thanks, hope to fellow cancer patients, political colleagues, Quebecers and finally for all Canadians.

Dear Friends,

Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can all do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change...

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.

The Truth and eloquence of these words and the man is unparalleled in my lifetime as a Canadian... and most especially words from the mouth of a politician. The message is something that "I" will carry forward with "Me"and put into practice. I aim to dedicate a larger part of my time to working towards seeing his vision accomplished... using my own energy and talents.

The profession of politics can truly become an Art form... when it is carried out with passion... with integrity and commitment over a lifetime. Jack Layton has taken politics to an art form level... and his wondrous and joyous life is to be celebrated as a great Canadian Masterpiece!

I hope that this message inspires all of you to live your life fully... to reach out... to persevere... to share your gifts... to make life... wherever you might live better! Therein lies the Hope for mankind and the world no matter your politics or country of origin!

God bless and embrace "You" Jack!


  1. Hi Bruce, my sympathies are with you for this loss in the life of your nation. In these turbulent times we need more people of vision like Jack Layton.

    All the best,

  2. What a very handsome man he is, Bruce. I am so sorry for your nation's loss, for your loss, for his wife and children's loss.

  3. Hi Keith.... You are so very correct in recognizing the world's need for men and women who are willing to devote their lives and energies working for the good of the common man.

    Too often in life... and in politics especially... it seems that everyone is out for themselves... and personal gain.

    Jack spent his life... first in Toronto in early life as an activist and then through his New Democratic Party affiliation and leadership as an refreshingly active alternative to the hum-drum larger parties of patronage and privilege.

    Democratic... was more than just a word to him. It was an ideal that he sought to bring to the lives of every Canadian.

    The world is a lesser place with his passing Keith. His vision... had he been able to carry it to the national leadership position as Prime Minister here in Canada... would have been shared with other world nations to make the world a better place.

    "I" really do feel a great personal sense of loss because for the first time in my own life... I saw a leader that I respected and would follow.

    Thanks for tuning in Keith. It is refreshing to know that others like "You" share his principles and values as do "I".

    Therein lies the "Hope... Love and Optimism" of which he spoke at the end of his life. I will continue to embrace and to practise those principles!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  4. Hi Sherry!... Being handsome was something that he never really flaunted. "He" was.... simply Jack - a down-to-earth individual who put you at ease immediately with his Truth and his obvious love of people and his country.

    His overwhelming political victory at the last election... bringing his party to the position of official opposition clearly signalled huge upcoming change... for the good of all Canadians in the national political arena.

    "He" was a unique person of vision... seeking equality of opportunity for every person... no matter heritage or circumstance.

    Democracy was more than a word in his life. It was a force that he gave his entire life to share with others. Sharing wasn't just a word either. It was a practice in his wonderfully joyous, but shortened life. And we canadians... small "c" fully intended... are deeply saddened by our loss... but better for having had him in our lives.

    Thank you for posting your supportive words Sherry! It is nice to know that there are others ... about the world ... who embrace these values!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,

  5. dear bruce,

    i am so very sorry for the loss of the enigmatic and brave man for you personally and your country collectively. how very sad. his fight was brave and courageous and it's obvious he will be painfully missed.

    best, suz

  6. Hi Suzanne... Painfully is a choice word to describe his loss to Canadians!

    His kind of humanity... vision... courage and tenacity on behalf of the ordinary man and woman is rare anywhere in the world.

    His untimely passing leaves a huge for his family who adored and shared his vision. For Canada at large... his passing leaves a very large hole in our collective hearts.

    Thanks for commenting and for your kind remarks Suzanne!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  7. Hi Bruce,

    My sincerest sympathies to you and your fellow Canadians. What the world needs is more good men like Jack. I can't understand for the life of me, why someone like him is taken away and all of the other scum of the earth continues to spew there venom and reek havoc on the world. I will certainly remember you and your country men in my prayers.

  8. Hi Bruce! I needed a few days to digest all this. Jack Leighton will be remembered as a good man and a politician with a lot of humanity. In Quebec, he was well liked. He was invited regularly on TV programs where he showed his great sense of humor.
    Personnaly, I think "respect" is the quality he possessed most. Always polite with others, even when dialogues got tough. A human being very in touch with reality and willing to make a difference. A great loss. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom.

  9. Hi Joan!... I share your sentiments completely. Life just seems so not "to be fair"... but then again "fairness"is really an entirely human expectation that exists nowhere else in the Natural order of things.

    What is most important to remember... and to embrace is that Jack Leyton's gift of his life energy in service to his fellow (ordinary) men and women will last and be passed forward. I think the next federal election here in Canada will show that! Canada is abetter place because of "Him". History will prove that to be so!

    Thanks for your kind and sympathetic remarks Joan!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  10. Hi Helen!... How appropriate your comments are about Jack Layton! Being born and raised in Montreal... he was both proud and sensitive to the unique culture that makes Quebec so special.

    His fluency with the French language... and as you so rightly suggested... his ability to listen and respond in an intelligent and proactive manner made him such a popular political favourite to Quebecers at large.

    That repect was for the man was the same in Ontario and Ottawa as well because of his integrity and unyielding adherence to Truth.

    Thank you for your lovely words of tribute Helen. It pleases me greatly to share this site with you in expressing our common respect for a very special Canadian>

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards...et Salut!