CFN – The first time I met Jack Layton was back in 2006, at the Inaugural Tommy Douglas benefit dinner here in Cornwall. I was twenty four years old and new to the New Democrat party. I was a young mom searching for answers on how to make this world a better place for my daughter.
Within seconds of hearing him speak it was very clear to me that Jack was the solution. Here he was in a room full of his supporters. He already had our vote, he didn’t need to woo us. Yet the energy and inspiration he sparked in that room was electrifying. This man was not some politician trying to promise me the world in exchange for my check mark on the ballot. He was a genuine human being that loved this country and all of its residents with a passion that was absolutely contagious. We all lined up that night for the chance to shake his hand.
As my turn was approaching I remember feeling so nervous. What could I possibly say to a man that had the potential to change the whole world? Suddenly, there he was in front of me. Looking me right in the eyes. I froze. The mom in me took over and I grabbed a hold of his face and planted a huge kiss on his cheek. “Thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Layton.” He calmed me down enough so that I could tell him about how inspired he made me and how much I believed in him. He smiled, and hugged me and told me about how important our youth are for the future of this country. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.
When Jack died last year he took a piece of all Canadians with him. Whether you believed in his politics or not it was impossible not to be affected by his love and enthusiasm for Canada. As devastating as his death was to me, it served as a very effective fire starter in my soul.
Throughout our entire battle for the beavers in Cornwall his words rang true in my head, encouraging me not to give up.
“Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.”
He had the ability to inspire like no other. Whether you met him once, or were a close friend, he treated everyone with the same love and respect that he spoke about in his final letter to Canadians. He was a true Canadian soldier fighting the war on despair. Today, on the one year anniversary of his death we must reflect, rebuild and continue to move forward on the legacy of a more caring Canada.
Let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.