Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Thoughts About the Late Jack Layton

I don't have a whole lot to add to what has already been said about Jack Layton, a man who regrettably I never met. There are two things, however, that deserve greater mention.

First,  I would like to commend Ed Broadbent for putting Jack Layton's name forward as leader to succeed Alexa McDonough.  Broadbent saw with remarkable clarity and prescience what kind of a leader Jack Layton would become. Specifically, Mr. Broadbent said that (1) Layton would bring a new energy to the leadership that would revitalize the party; and (2) Mr. Layton's background in civic and local politics would stand him in good stead in negotiating and forging compromises across party lines--a distinct virtue that made him the linchpin of the  three minority parliaments between 2004 and 2011.

Second, part of Layton's legacy is a paradox of political style.  He had been accused of being "plastic" a "gladhanding politician" and  a hog for the camera and microphone.  Yet  he struck many Canadians as being unusually authentic and sincere in standing up for the little guy--"Bon jack" as they say in Quebec. The explanation: it may be allright to be a "politician" if you're honest about it, good at  it, embrace the political life with gusto, and are genuinely sincere about the cause you are fighting for.

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