Many of us who read the papers and watch or listen to the various other forms of media in this country have been inundated with reporting about the untimely death of Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP party in Canada and the leader of the Official Opposition in Ottawa.
Cancer has no friends, it takes no prisoners and, in this case, I think the shock of Mr. Layton’s death was a result of how quickly it happened. Yes, it was clear he was not well, he had taken a leave of absence, but shortly after his last public appearance, he was gone.
For me, the jury is out on whether Jack Layton deserved a state funeral. However, Jack deserved many of the tributes and accolades that have flowed this week; he was a unique individual. I extend my personal condolences to his wife, Ms. Chow, his children and his granddaughter on such a tragic loss…….Jack was only sixty-one years old.
Yes, I knew Jack Layton. I have wrestled with whether or not to comment on Jack’s death but, as my chosen mandate is to blog on politics, the media and the environment, I would not be doing my job if I took a pass. Jack Layton, as was commented by many this week, was a master media manipulator. However, behind that great smile and that exuberant delivery was a ruthless will to win at all costs.
Yes Jack did things for the little guy, the homeless and the downtrodden. But Jack also did things to promote Jack, especially in the environmental world. One columnist noted the issues he took on that were controversial, including opposition to a Toronto Olympic bid and the Adams Mine Landfill.
Jack Layton and I were serious adversaries for almost ten years. I got to see a side of Jack, up close and personal, which few saw. In my book TRASHED, I give Jack his due as an extremely intelligent man and a media manipulator, but he was also someone who twisted the facts to suit his propaganda and, to be honest, often he did not tell the truth. In my view his efforts, both then and now, were designed to further his personal media agenda at the expense of a world class waste management system for Ontario. He was good at it and it worked.
Yes, I knew Jack Layton. I recall being invited to debate Jack on the Global Television program, Focus Ontario. I had taken a car up to the studio and the driver was waiting to take me back to the hotel. After forty-five minutes of a hammer and tong debate with moderator Robert Fisher trying to play referee, I think we fought to a draw.
After it was over, Jack didn’t have a ride back downtown. I offered same. On the drive, we talked about a number of things. Finally I had to ask; “Jack, you are an intelligent man, you know the real facts about the Adams Mine, how can you say those outright lies to that camera?” Jack went very quiet and, as I recall, he did not answer the question.
I read a quote somewhere that said; “Politics is the conduct of public affairs for private advantage”. Jack Layton deserves much of what has been said and written this week. But I knew another side of Jack Layton, the one that put personal political gain ahead of the right environmental solutions. There are two sides to every story. Rest in peace!
TRASHED! How Political Garbage Made the United States Canada’s Largest Dump