Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jack Layton's legacy

Remembering Jack Layton at Nathan Phillips Square
(Image: Jackman Chiu)

Those who have lived enough come to realise that life doesn't boil down to anything more than simply caring for each other. That's why there's something to be said about the great outpouring of sentiment about the loss of Jack Layton.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

I've lost track of how many times I've observed people on and offline repeating that line in his farewell letter.  I can't think of any other current denizen of the House who could command such genuflection.

People respond this way because of what, beyond anything else, the NDP stand for. If Jack Layton's inheritors are smart, they will use that final quote as the party motto and set the country on fire. If they're wise, they will embody this in who they are and how they act. 

It could work. The comment stands as white light against the darkness of today's  politics. Just observe the contrast between the sentiments contained within the letter and expressed by well-wishers and the the impropriety coming from the other side of the aisle.

There is morality at work in Canadian politics now well beyond the simple ideological or technical differences over economics or social policy. Prisons, exported torture, tar sands, expeditionary wars, asbestos exports, are all built on unkindness by people who at best do not recognise shared humanity, or at worst find it uncomfortable.

This amorality and misanthropy cannot compete with the sentiment in Mr. Layton's farewell. There's a momentum in the emotion generated by his passing that must be put to good use in the coming years. I'm not sure I agree that Harper benefits most from Layton's passing. Harper's brand of attack politics works only on the living. and as the reaction the Blatchford column suggests, speaking ill of the dead earns you few votes.

The one-trick pony Conservatives may well find themselves facing a significantly empowered opposition operating from a clearly defined and incontestable moral position. And that, my friends, is reason to hope.      


liberal supporter said...

It will probably hurt, not help Harper, eventually.

Harper's problem since the election is how to keep the millions of people who normally support the Liberals. He asked for their votes in the last days before the election. He made it possible by throwing the socon antichoicers under the bus during the debates. Millions of Liberal voters lent Harper their votes, mainly because they saw the NDP likely to come in second, which would really destroy the Liberals, what with being honour bound to support the NDP in defeating a minority CPC government (and making Jack the PM), and further being bound by Ignatieff's "no coalition" so they would be shut out of Cabinet.

With a strong Opposition led by Jack, Harper could continue to disregard his base who have no place else to go, and try to please his Liberal vote lenders, at least appease them enough to win the next election.

Now he will have less leverage against his own far right factions so he'll end up going farther right and losing his chance at keeping the Liberal vote lenders.

double nickel said...

I appreciate the fact that you credited the photographer.

Unknown said...

If,as the saying goes, a week is a long time in politics, then four years is an eternity. If an election were called for next month and the ndp had a decent campaigner in place as leader, they would have a good shot at riding the wave of affection for Layton into government.
the next election won't be for four more years and Harper has a free hand until then. As much as I hate to say it, even if the NDP votes in a new leader who embodies all that Layton professed in his now-famous letter, with four years to fundraise and ruthlessly kneecap the opposition parties at every turn, Harper is going to be tough to unseat. Sadly, I don't think the current outpouring of affection for Layton and the NDP will be much remembered in four years.

Boris said...

On the other hand, Rev, the NDP would be fools not keep reference to Jack Layton in play over the next few years. You can base an election campaign around his farewell letter.