Jack Layton was ‘our Obama’

Dale Jackaman, the 2011 NDP candidate for Richmond, met Jack Layton many times in the last decade. Layton died Monday.  -
Dale Jackaman, the 2011 NDP candidate for Richmond, met Jack Layton many times in the last decade. Layton died Monday.
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In 2003, Dale Jackaman rallied for Jack Layton, a man then unknown on the national political scene.

That year Layton won his bid for leadership of the federal NDP and inspired Jackaman to run as a candidate in Richmond.

“I was very very impressed with the man. He was a major major reason why I decided to run for the federal NDP in the election afterwards—and subsequently.”

Layton, 61, died early Monday morning at his home in Toronto from cancer, less than four months after leading his party to its first-ever Opposition status in the House of Commons.

Jackaman heard of Layton’s passing through a text message. Hours later, Jackaman attended a candlelight memorial with hundreds of others at the Vancouver Art Gallery to honour the man he compared with the U.S. president.

“In a sense he’s almost our Obama. He fought those who were trying to make Canada a colder, nastier place, as epitomized by our current Conservative government in spades,” said Jackaman.

The May 2, 2011 election was Jackaman’s third as a federal NDP candidate. He said Layton was a man he gladly ran for—even in a largely-conservative riding such as Richmond.

“Canadians are going to miss the man. He’s part of Canada, part of our political scene. He’s our needed opposition to our current government. Replacing that is going to be extraordinarily difficult. He’s a leader who’s had extraordinary support within the party.”

Nonetheless, Layton was able to attract many bright lights to the party, said Jackaman, adding there are a number of people who could step forward to take on the role of party leader.

Layton’s state funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.

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