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On August 22nd, 2011, Canada lost one of its finer citizens and representatives in Ottawa, Jack Layton (b. July 18th, 1950).

Earlier this year, on May 2nd, 2011, under the leadership of Jack Layton, the New Democratic Party won a total of 103 seats in Parliament, which meant not only that Mr Layton would form the Official Opposition, but that seats formerly occupied by members of the Bloc québécois had become NDP seats.  Canadians could now count on greater solidarity in Parliament.  The party won 59 of Quebec’s 75 seats.

Jack Layton won the heart of Québécois during his appearance, on April 3rd, on Radio-Canada’s French-language’s CBC’s most popular talk show:  Tout le monde en parle (Everybody is talking about it).  The televised French-language party leaders’ debate, held on April 13th, also touched the heart of Québécois and it is largely from the heart that Québécois vote.

It was clear to them that this gentleman could listen to the people and wanted to serve the people.  And it would seem that what was clear to Québécois was just as clear to people in the other provinces of Canada.

I believe the message is simple.  This smiling gentleman had charisma and he was genuine.  He loved playing his guitar and singing at various gatherings, including political events.  He was liked.  The nation was hearing hollow words, or what it perceived as hollow words, at a time of global unrest and financial insecurity.  So the likeable Mr Layton and members of his party seemed a safe choice in circumstances that were no longer safe.

In short, Mr Layton inspired confidence.  He was the kind of person one wants as a  neighbour.

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John Gilbert “Jack” Layton was born in Montreal and raised near Hudson, Quebec.  His  mother was the grand-niece of William Steeves, a Father of Confederation, and his father, Robert Layton, a Progressive Conservative MP (Member of Parliament).

Jack Layton studied political science at McGill University and, after his family moved to Toronto, in 1970, he obtained a PhD in political science at York University, in Toronto.  He then became a professor at Ryerson University, also located in Toronto.

Having served for several years on Toronto’s City Council, Dr Layton was elected leader of the New Democratic Party, in 2003, and gathered the support of voters in elections held in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Jack Layton is the author of several books. 

He married Sally Halford in 1969, and the couple had two children:  Mike and Sarah.  The marriage ended in 1983 but Layton met Olivia Chow, also a politician, in 1985, and married her in 1988.

A State Funeral will be held on August 27th at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.

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