Goodbye Jack

Thousands of Canadians gather in Toronto to bid farewell to Jack Layton

Thousands gathered in Toronto on Saturday to say a final farewell to Jack Layton, whose life was commemorated in a moving ceremony at Roy Thomson Hall. The state funeral followed a procession through downtown, in which Layton’s wife, NDP MP Olivia Chow, and children, Mike and Sarah, followed the hearse on foot. Stephen Lewis eulogized the late NDP leader, calling Layton’s final letter, written just before his death, a “manifesto for social democracy.” Mike, a Toronto city councilor, and Sarah, who works at the Stephen Lewis Foundation, both gave moving tributes to their father in French and English. Musical tributes included a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” by Steven Page of the Barenaked Ladies, and Lorraine Segato of The Parachute Club, who performed “Rise Up,” the group’s 1983 hit and an NDP anthem. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his wife Laureen, Governor General David Johnston, and some 1,700 other invited guests were in attendance. Layton died of cancer on August 22, 2011, at the age of 61. The national outpouring of grief for a politician who has never led a government or sat in cabinet is without precedent.

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