My nephew put it very well, he said, "It kinda feels like Canada has lost a Dad."
Jack Layton was that for us. He was an incredible leader who inspired and mentored others, who did what was right and yet always had time for people: his fellow Canadians, his constituents, his colleagues, his friends and most especially his family. As I watched his state funeral today, I was struck by the outpouring of love from the huge crowd at Roy Thompson Hall and that even larger crowd outside. In Toronto, Canada's largest city, and earlier in Ottawa, our nation's capital, but also in other cities and towns across this vast and varied nation, people needed to join together to celebrate his generous life and mourn his passing.
To me he was the embodiment of the phrase: Think Global, Act Local. Everything he did was from a personal wish for a better world, a better life for everyone. He started with the simpler things (but not necessarily the easier things). He cultivated a solid family life. Although he was divorced from his first partner, he was able to find a new love with fellow politician Olivia Chow. The eulogy from his two grown children, Mike and Sarah was testament to what a wonderful father he was.
Besides the family testaments, there were several other very moving parts of the ceremony for me. The first was the blessing by the Chief of The Assembly of First Nations, Shawn Atleo. Let me assure you, this type of tribute is a huge honour which is not the kind of thing that happens very often, especially for a politician!
Sorry this video is not available anymore. Please click here to watch it on CBC.ca
The eulogy by Stephen Lewis, a Canadian icon himself and the son of David Lewis, a former leader of the New Democratic Party, was deeply touching. He had a difficult time getting everything out that he wanted to say not only because his emotions were very close to the surface, but also because he was interrupted many times by applause and even several standing ovations. Click here to view a video of this speech.
The musical tributes were very special too. Stephen Page (formerly of the Barenaked Ladies) sang Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah; Lorraine Segato performed a soulful reworking of her anthem Rise Up; and Julie Michels provided a stirring rendition of Get Together as his casket was carried from the building.
An excerpt of the ceremony from the television coverage I watched today:
Phylly's Top Five Reasons to admire Jack Layton:
1. His love for his wife and "soul mate"
2. His "Man of the People" quality
|Watch this interview where Rick Mercer tours Jack's home|
3. His caring for people and for the quality of life
|Jack proved his committment to Health care in this CBC video Make the Politician Work|
4. His joy for life ...
and his quirkiness!
5. His incredible optimistic spirit and his ability to inspire others.
Thank you Jack! Canada will miss you.