Editor: On Monday morning, I woke up after one of those beautiful Lower Mainland weekends. Outside my window, what had been sunshine and heat for days had turned into a heavy downpour. It was cleansing, giving, and glum.
As usual, I dashed through my morning routine and jumped in my car. I turned on the ignition, expecting the voice of Rick Cluff on CBC One to cheerfully welcome me into the world. Instead, by the time I was out of my garage and down the lane, I received the news that made me stop my car.
On Monday morning, Canada lost a hero.
I have had the opportunity to meet Jack Layton on a few occasions. He was as strong, motivating and humble as you might expect from one of his appearances on TV. As I got to know him, I learned that in private, just as much as in public, he was a politician. He and his family had sacrificed their lives to the world of Parliament, so that our voices could ring loudly and clearly in the House of Commons. He brought an honour to his work that we rarely associate with politics these days.
By Monday evening, Canadians almost universally united in remembrance.
I attended the candlelight vigil in Vancouver. Hundreds of mourners came together to remember and grieve. People cried, people hugged, people spoke and listened. Hundreds of candles lined the steps of the Art Gallery. Posters, placards and notes stood in memoriam amongst the flickering light. I stayed until most people had left. Seeing the few mourners and the placards, tourists walking by would ask who Jack Layton was. I told them that he was a great man, a leader, and a friend.
On Tuesday morning, the sun had returned, but with a cold breeze. Where we stood united in remembrance the night before, we now stand united in our will. The greatest thing that Jack brought to politics was optimism and hope. Today, I choose to be optimistic and hopeful about our future. I hope for a future where we all insist on what is just, and all commit ourselves to building a better world, the same way Jack did.
With love, hope, and optimism,
Editor’s note — Mr. Majkowski was the NDP candidate in Langley in the May federal election.