So, we lost Jack.
I miss him very much already. The first time I met him was at a provincial NDP convention in Moncton, New Brunswick. During his address to the crowd he made sure to mention his east coast roots, but there was much affectionate eye-rolling in the crowd. He couldn't fool us; Jack was much too city.
Having lived in downtown Toronto for a year now, I'm starting to get to know it, and I see now more than ever how Jack was truly of this place. An avid cyclist, incorrigible extrovert, and quintessential politician; he was slick like Toronto, which I mean in the nicest possible way. Sometimes he could be so quick and sharp-tongued, but always he was a good-hearted idealist with grand, sincere dreams for this country.
I can't say I knew him; I only ever met him in an NDP capacity. I feel like I knew him though, or at least enough about him to get a sense of who he was...I guess a lot of people feel that way about public figures. But I think the better I get to know Toronto, the more I understand who Jack was. He was our neighbour; he and Olivia lived just a few blocks over from us, in Chinatown. His son is our city councillor and his wife is our MP. He is a local, through and through, and I don't just mean that in the Toronto sense. Jack could've been anyone's neighbour; if you talked to him in the street or at a campaign event he would be just as happy to discuss the weather or mustache fashion (I wish!) as goals and strategies for the party. He was certainly a born politician, and he was always "on" - but he was genuine as well. A class act.
Of course we will miss Jack a great deal on the political front, but I can't even begin to think about all the ways his loss will be felt, in the NDP and in the progressive movement as a whole. Not yet. Right now I am still grieving Jack the guy, Jack the citizen. Jack my neighbour who was everything that was great about Toronto.
Thanks for everything Mr. Layton. We lost a great leader, and heaven gained a great mustache.