What Jack Layton left

Gerald Caplan considers the late NDP leader’s legacy.

It seems to me that Jack Layton’s enduring legacy is twofold. First, he set a standard of doing politics that, if followed by others, would change the entire tone of public life for the country … Jack regarded those he disagreed with as democratic opponents, not as dishonorable, even treasonous enemies to be destroyed. For him politics was not the brutal, no-holds-barred permanent war being waged against all comers by the governing party. He rarely attacked motives or personalities. He treated his opponents with respect and civility. He stuck to the issues, about which he felt passionately and which he pursued forcefully…

Mr. Layton’s second great legacy was to change the mindset of the NDP from being permanent losers to becoming potential governors. I plead guilty here: I was among those whose views he changed most and who needed changing most.




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What Jack Layton left

  1. On the second point Caplan is obviously right. On the first point, I really don’t know where this mythology took hold. There are a few famous examples to the contrary, most notably his comments re: Paul Martin’s responsibility for the deaths of homeless people. He was was as or more proficient than most politicians when it came to demonizing the opposition. It’s part of what made him such a pro.

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