Jack Layton 1950-2011

Fall 2011 CSANews Issue 80  |  Posted date : Sep 02, 2011.Back to list

Jack Layton
1950 - 2011

Jack Layton, the leader of Canada's official opposition, passed away at age 61 after fighting a courageous battle with cancer. He was at the pinnacle of his political career. Earlier this year, Layton led the New Democratic Party (NDP) to an historic victory in the federal election. The NDP won a record number of seats (103, up from a previous 37), emerging as the second party to Stephen Harper's triumphant Conservatives and relegating the Liberal party to third place for the first time since Canadian confederation in 1867. Just as remarkably, Layton became the first anglophone to win the majority of the seats in the province of Quebec.

Layton was born into a political family in Montreal and was raised in the small town of Hudson, Quebec. He worked as a teacher in the 1970s, served as a city councillor and later served as deputy mayor of Toronto. In 1991, he made an unsuccessful bid to become mayor. He was elected leader of the NDP in 2003 and was elected to the Commons for the first time in 2004. In the 2006 federal election, the NDP placed fourth, with 29 seats. Two years later, they gained eight more seats in the election. In his final press conference, Layton said that he hoped to return to the Commons to build "the country of our hopes, of our dreams, of our optimism, our determination, our values and our love." His easy smile and optimistic view of life led to his nickname, "Smiling Jack." He was an ally of the CSA and of all Canadians, regardless of their political stripes.

He is survived by his wife Olivia Chow and his children Sarah and Mike.

John Gilbert Layton, born July 18, 1950; died August 22, 2011