The death and the rising


Michael Valpy and James McKee consider the reaction to Jack Layton’s death.

It’s been suggested the deep emotional response was to the suddenness of his passing, or to the cruel irony of death striking him down while the applause still rang out for his grand electoral success. If that’s all that was involved, it would be a shallow saga, soon forgotten. Something struck a chord across the country – not all of it mind – but in the big cities where progressive voices have long felt comfortable. It struck, that chord, as a public manifestation of a collective worry about what Mr. Layton’s loss — Jack’s loss — meant for so many Canadians’ values, the not-quite-taken-shape articulation of people who feel threatened, who see themselves governed by politicians holding alien values, beliefs and behaviour

It’s a chord of protest against a domain that doesn’t want libraries, social housing or a long form census but only lower taxes and more fighter jets. A chord of resentment sounded by people who have felt themselves unable to self-identify as progressives in the way Jack Layton consistently did, with an unrepentant pride in his beliefs.


The death and the rising

  1. Yes, I’d agree with that 100%.

    It wasn’t Layton per se….but everything that being a progressive person means. And it’s not restricted to one political party.

  2. I remember after 9/11, the shock and sadness of Americans as they realized others in the world dislike them and their lifestyles — the self-searching, the crying on talk shows — Oprah and her guests swearing the event would change the way Americans operate in the world.  Writers all over talking, like these writers, about striking chords of change.

    Well it didn’t take too long for that to all disappear, did it?  Flown through an American airport lately?  Mr Layton’s passing will prove to have been a moment of recognition for Canadians, but just a fleeting moment.

    I never particularly liked or disliked Layton, the politician I knew; the events since his death have for the first time shown me what an active city councillor he was (sometimes those of you in Toronto fail to realize that the rest of us don’t know any more about your mayors and councillors than you do about ours). 

    I’m glad he was a firebrand, I’m glad he was a great father and husband, and I’m very sorry he passed away so young and on top of such a big and portentous win.  But I don’t for one minute believe his passing will propel any longlasting changes for Canada. 

      • Yes, a solid week of relentlessly positive coverage will do that. Check again in three or six months, when the polled aren’t basically being asked “Was Jack a nice guy,” but instead “Do you actually want a PM Mulcair/Topp/Comartin/whoever.”

        • Well a funeral isn’t exactly ‘relentlessly positive’

          And no one asked about Jack being a nice guy…I doubt that’s the point anyway.

          This poll was taken when there was no leader, other than the supposedly separatist Turmel….so I don’t know that Canadians care.

  3. I find a lot to agree with in this analysis.

  4. “The death and the rising”   Lol – does this mean Jack will be back??

    Gardner at the Ottawa Citizen says it all:

    “Stephen Harper has won three elections in a row, each with a larger share of the popular vote than the last, and each against politicians who wouldn’t, or couldn’t, do politics the Chicago way.

    So please forgive me if I roll my eyes when I am told that the genuine shock and sadness we saw last week is proof that Canadians yearn for a politician who takes the high road. That is a hypothesis unsupported by evidence.”

    • The ‘Chicago way’ doesn’t leave anyone alive to fight back.

  5. Well, Gordon Campbell thought he could bully boy his way too – won elections doing that – but it turns out people weren’t actually tolerating it.  When the public finally turns on Harper, he and his supporters will be as shocked as Campbell  was.

  6. Jack who?

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