Layton to be honoured with rare state funeral
Late Opposition leader’s service to be held Saturday in Toronto
Jack Layton, who died Monday morning at the age of 61, will be honoured in a state funeral to be held Saturday in Toronto.
Layton’s widow Olivia Chow accepted Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s offer of a state funeral, Harper’s communications director Dimitri Soudas said Monday.
Soudas said in a statement that Canadians “will have an opportunity to salute Jack Layton’s contribution to public life as well as offer their heartfelt condolences, their thoughts and prayers to Mr. Layton’s family.”
Soudas explained that state funerals are only automatic in cases of current and former governors general, current and former prime ministers, and sitting members of cabinet.
“It is possible for the prime minister on behalf of the Government of Canada to accord the honour of a state funeral to other eminent Canadians, should it be deemed appropriate,” he said. “Prime Minister Harper has exercised his discretion and has offered Ms. Chow a state funeral for Jack Layton. She has accepted.”
The government protocol office is working with the NDP and Layton’s family on details.
Canadians mourning Layton will have the chance to leave messages of condolence across the country in the days leading up to the funeral.
NDP MP constituency offices will all have books of condolences for the public to sign prior to the funeral and there will be books at Toronto City Hall and on Parliament Hill.
The NDP has set up a section on its website for those who want to leave messages for Layton’s family and friends. They’re asking for donations to the Broadbent Institute in memory of Layton in lieu of flowers.
The Broadbent Institute is an NDP-affiliated think tank that was announced at the party’s 50th anniversary convention in June. It’s named for former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, a close friend of Layton’s.
Layton had fought prostate cancer since 2010, but in July announced he faced a second, undisclosed cancer.
The last state funeral was on July 3, 2009, for former governor general Roméo LeBlanc. It was held in Memramcook, N.B.
Aboriginals were mourning the death of a politician who had championed their rights.
“He always took the time to meet with us to hear our concerns. He was honest, approachable and cared about people,” said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee in a statement from the Union of Ontario Indians. “He epitomized someone we all like to see in a person and he transcended issues from politics to the average citizen. It is a sad day for everyone.”
Layton co-founded the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), a worldwide effort to get men to work to end violence against women. The Toronto-based organization expressed shock and sadness at Layton’s passing. Executive Director Todd Minerson described in a tribute how Layton had helped start the initiative back in 1991 out of his son Mike’s bedroom.
“He felt men had to have both a role and responsibility in working to end violence against women, that we needed to step up our efforts in promoting gender equality, and be accountable to challenging the most harmful aspects of masculinity,” Minerson said in a statement.
“From those humble beginnings, WRC is now the world’s largest effort of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls,” Minerson said. “From Mike’s bedroom to over 60 countries around the world, men have taken up the dream of ending gender based violence. Governments around the world, NGOs and the U.N. have all recognized the importance of this effort.”
He added, “This is a truly remarkable accomplishment, one that would not have happened without Jack. As one small piece of his legacy, it will continue to have a tremendous impact.”
Tonight at 8 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery Georgia Street. We will honour the remarkable life of Jack Layton. Please pass the word, bring a candle and a message
Jack Layton and his wife, NDP member of parliament Olivia Chow, through the years. Political OTP forever. <3 RIP Jack.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all…”
Jack Layton, leader of the NDP, Canada’s opposition party and perhaps our greatest asset against the Conservative majority, passed away today. Thank you, Mr. Layton, for the hope you inspired.
Sometimes poetry is the best way to communicate an idea.