Jack Layton’s death was an unwelcome shock. While it is true he looked “cadaverous,” to borrow a phrase from Ms. Blatchford, when he took his leave of absence, I guess I, like many others, never considered the posibility he might die.
As a political science student I can’t help but immediately evaluate the political aftermath; its not good. The Liberals have a minority and much of the NDP’s support in Quebec was due to Jack’s personality, and tireless work to bring them into the federalist fold. Thats why we saw so many, very young, MP’s elected without living in their ridings. They weren’t voted in, Jack was, over and over again. Jack’s guidance will be missed in September and if the NDP can’t organize then Harper will have clear reign for the next few years.
Why does this matter to me? I’ve always been interested in politics, even at my worst cynically I still can’t help but constantly digest and take an interest in politics. This interest began to develop as the US began deploying troops in Iraq. Half a year later an election was called in Canada and the NDP fielded their new candidate, Jack Layton. I was in the back seat of my friend’s dad’s car in Guelph in 2004, we were driving home from a screening of Team America World Police, my friend’s dad saw the campaign bus outside the Woolwhich Arms Pub and pulled up. We got out and for the first time I saw a federal party leader in the flesh. He was invigorating, he spoke honestly it seemed, with fire and passion but there was compassion behind the fire too. In 2006 a friend and I formed the Human Rights Committee at our school, the HRC strived to provide access to students at our high school to fundraising materials and people. One of our first efforts was take a group of ten students to a rally in Toronto which was calling for a UN peacekeeping force to be deployed in Darfur. It was here I first met him.
After that I decided to take a partisan role in my views and I became involved in the riding association in Guelph. I agreed to try and work as a high school ambassador, a difficult task in my Conservative high school.
Over the next few years I grew into my politics, a staunch libertarian socialist (sometimes called collective anarchism). Jack was not those things, he was a social democrat and so we didn’t really see eye to eye, in fact if I’m being honest until 2010 I wanted him ousted as leader. Then Harper decided to prorouge parliament. That winter there was a huge rally on Parliament Hill (one of the larger ones I’ve seen since moving here in 2008) some 6000 people showed up in -40 weather to shout their anger at an empty legislature. Jack, like other opposition leaders was there, demanding Harper bring everyone back to work. Throughout the whole prorougation debacle I fell in love with Jack’s ability to wave a wand and find unification in the patchwork quilt that is Canadian political culture as the coalition was largely the work of Jack and the new democrats.
As the summer came so did the winds of election, also the Ottawa Centre riding association’s 100 km social, an evening with food and beer sourced from within 100 km. Its always a blast and in summer 2010 organizers had both the provincial leader and Jack in attendance. Halfway through the night Jack threw back the rest of his beer and gave one of the most impassioned speeches I’ve ever seen from him…
This is how I will remember Jack, not as a man I always agreed with but as one of the few politicians I hold respect for and I’m not the only who feels this way. A head of state for the leader of the opposition and we have almost a full week of pan-partisan national grieving, Jack Layton clearly meant something to this country.
Well the week finally came to an end and included a beautiful funeral and memorial service in Toronto on Saturday.
On Sunday I found myself walking through Ottawa’s Gay Pride Parade. It wasn’t my intention to go, I had left to walk with my girlfriend to the bus stop. As a result I only had a camera with black an white film on me. Its not that I didn’t want to go, rather I’d actually forgotten Pride was that weekend (stupid I know). Still I enjoyed wandering around following the parade, very colourful… too bad you can’t see that.
Oh and one more which came about quite randomly. I was biking home along the canal on Thursday and I had my camera out. As I Lansdowne Park I saw a guy in a kayak and snapped this.
Thats it for this week, for those curious the colour photos were shot on Fujichrome Sensia 400 and the black and white photos were shot on Ilford Delta 400 pushed to 1600. All photos were taken using a Canon EOS 1n with a 24mm L f/1.4.