Vancouver MP reflects on Jack Layton’s legacy as memorials set to take place
In the days following former NDP Leader Jack Layton’s death in August 2011, members of the public paid tribute though chalk messages outside Toronto City Hall, and in memorial events held across the country.
On the one-year anniversary of Layton’s passing Wednesday (August 22), another series of tributes is set to take place in various Canadian cities.
In Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto, members of Layton’s family will attend an official memorial event. Locally, an informal gathering is being planned outside the Vancouver Convention Centre at 6 p.m. to, in the words of organizers, “celebrate Jack’s vision of love, hope and optimism,” a reference to his public letter that was released following his death.
In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight from Toronto, Vancouver East MP Libby Davies reflected on Layton's legacy, and that passage from his departing letter to Canadians.
“That letter lives on,” she said. “I see it quite frequently in various manifestations…they were meaningful words to people, and they were a year ago, and they still are today.”
Layton died on August 22, 2011 after a fight with cancer, less than four months after his party formed Official Opposition status.
Davies acknowledges it’s been “a tough year” for the caucus. But she said there continues to be a “very, very palpable” sense among the NDP of Layton's impact.
“What he represented in politics is very present with us in the NDP in the Ottawa, but I think it does go beyond the NDP as well,” she said. “I get lots of people coming up to me in Vancouver and elsewhere…just saying something about Jack. So I know it’s not just me—he really had a very strong personal connection for people, even if they hadn’t met him.”
Davies believes that during the years Layton was leader of the party, he successfully “opened up politics for people.”
“It wasn’t just opposing, it was about proposing, being constructive, and I think that really meant a lot to people,” she said. “I think that’s very much part of his legacy, and I think that’s one of the things that influences us in the work we do today, is the way he did his politics.”
The memorial gathering in Vancouver will take place between the old and new buildings of the convention centre at 6 p.m on Wednesday (August 22). Event organizers the B.C. Building Trades are encouraging attendees to bring chalk and candles.