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  • Jack Layton’s legacy lingers one year later

    “To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease.
    You have every reason to be optimistic, determined and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.”
    – NDP Leader Jack Layton
    With those inspiring words ringing in my ear, I courageously went for my own prostate surgery in September last year. It is unfortunate that Jack Layton’s own journey didn’t go as well as he had hoped and Canada lost one of its most colourful, dynamic and greatest Canadians.
    Although I didn’t share his political beliefs and party affiliations, I salute the man who had compassion and belief in equality, which got him involved in causes that affected the common man, becoming a tireless fighter for social justice.
    While we all shared the loss and grief, his last letter to Canadians will go down in history as a testament to human dignity, political legacy and strong principles. His last words were for everyone – they were meant for his political colleagues, Quebecers, Canadian youth and ordinary citizens. It showed how remarkable a man Layton was that he thought of everyone during his last days.
    Mr. Layton, who had battled prostate cancer before, knew that his fight was coming to an end, yet he was concerned that others suffering from cancer should not be discouraged. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and there is hardly any Canadian family that doesn’t have a relative or a friend fighting cancer. Some have successfully undergone treatment and have lived fruitful and meaningful lives.
    Those of us who were undergoing treatment last year will never forget his words of encouragement, urging people not to be disheartened and not to lose hope. These words of encouragement, written by a dying man on his deathbed, speak about his character and care for ordinary Canadians.
    To prostate cancer sufferers, he, like a father consoling his son, advised them that treatment for the disease has advanced to such a degree that they would be in good hands. These caring words from Layton confirm a bond that he felt with Canadians suffering from prostate cancer. Such a message from one sufferer to another indicates camaraderie and does most good perhaps medical experts give more soothing than assurances.
    And in his characteristic style, Layton said that his only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey.
    Layton will be remembered for his achievements in life and for his legacy to Canadians in death, by foe and friends alike.
    Although it has been a year, I still remember Layton’s last words of encouragement and inspiration as I was wheeled to the operating theatre. Thanks, my friend Jack, as I am still touched and encouraged by your bravery and camaraderie as a prostate cancer sufferer.
    Under Layton, the NDP made unexpected breakthrough in the May, 2011 election that gave the NDP 59 seats in Quebec and official opposition status in the House of Commons, wiping out of the Bloc Québécois from the political scene. One need not be an NDP supporter to be impressed by his accomplishments.
    The NDPs will always revere Jack Layton’s memory and the party, which is getting stronger and more powerful, has built on Jack’s legacy and aims to form the next government.
    Mr. Layton’s successor, Mr. Thomas Mulcair, is stamping his own style of governing by being assertive and aggressive. More work has to be done, especially in those parts of the country where the NDP support is minimal. It is to be seen whether Mr. Mulcair will build on Layton’s legacy and succeed in turning his regional party into government in waiting.