A gaunt face and a wry smile - Macleans.ca

A gaunt face and a wry smile

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Chris Selley takes in Jack Layton’s announcement.

Looking back on the day, my dominant thought is: Wow. So that’s what it’s like to be a high-profile public figure and get cancer. Bad enough your component cells are conspiring to murder you, now you’ve got a pack of hounds dissecting your every utterance and demanding to know your most intimate medical details. It’s awful. And yet, it matters. Mr. Layton and his party matter, far more now than ever before. Canada needs its leader of the opposition. And the NDP doesn’t just need a leader — it needs Mr. Layton…

Nothing any journalist, politician or press flak says will change what happens. But if I had to pick an optimistic moment from the press conference, it would be a wry little smile that crossed Mr. Layton’s face when he spoke, in both English and French, of “replac[ing] the Conservative government, a few short years from now.” Haggard as he appeared, he very much seemed to be imagining himself not as an ill leader of the opposition, but as a fit prime minister. The man’s never wanted for optimism. And he is, after all, on a winning streak.