Very best wishes to Jack Layton .. too valuable a contribution to do without

Jul 25th, 2011 | By | Category: In Brief

Jack Layton at press conference in Toronto Monday, July 25, 2011, where he revealed he has been diagnosed with a second form of cancer. RENE JOHNSTON/TORONTO STAR.

TORONTO. MONDAY, JULY 25, 2011. 3:40 PM ET. The photo that appeared on the Toronto Star website less than an hour ago says a great deal, if not quite everything. As federal New Democrat leader Jack Layton has explained to his fellow New Democrats (in a statement subsequently made public in Toronto this afternoon):

“In the closing days of the most recent session of the House of Commons, I suffered from some stiffness and pain … After the House rose, I undertook a series of tests at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto … My battle against prostate cancer is going very well. My PSA levels remain virtually undetectable … However, these tests, whose results I received last week, also indicate that I have a new, non-prostate cancer that will require further treatment … So, on the advice of my doctors, I am going to focus on treatment and recovery … I will therefore be taking a temporary leave of absence as Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada. I’m going to fight this cancer now, so I can be back to fight for families when Parliament resumes.”

Jack Layton and his wife MP Olivia Chow watch returns at his election night headquarters in Toronto on Tuesday October 14, 2008. Photo by Nathan Denette/CP.

Joanna Smith of the Star’s Ottawa Bureau goes on: “Layton said he has asked NDP president Brian Topp to consult with the parliamentary caucus and convene a meeting of federal council to appoint an interim leader … Layton recommended newly elected MP Nycole Turmel (Hull–Aylmer), who is national chair of the NDP caucus … The decision will be made by Thursday afternoon” [July 28]. Mr. Layton himself has explained: “The interim leader will serve until I resume my duties … I intend to do so when Parliament meets on September 19th.”

We have not always agreed with Mr. Layton and his party. But there can be no doubt that he has made a great and ultimately surprising and refreshing contribution to Canadian federal politics. It seems impossible to believe that he will not continue to do so this fall and winter, and on and on. We just want to join many others in extending our very best wishes. He concluded his statement in Toronto today with: “If I have tried to bring anything to federal politics, it is the idea that hope and optimism should be at their heart.” That is far too valuable a contribution to do without.

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