The beatification of Saint Jack.

The Roman church has a strict schedule for the creation of saints. It is a long and rigorous process. This process could severely try the patience of the New Democratic Party (NDP). There might also be some dispute between the church and the NDP as to what constitutes a miracle.

The NDP used to think of winning any parliamentary seat in Quebec as a miracle. Yet, there was no divine intervention in what happened in Quebec in the last federal election. Jack Layton happened to be standing at a crossroads in the province and got the advantage of it. The Conservatives were dead in the water and both the Bloc Québécois and the Federal Liberals were running on empty. Those parties had taken Quebec voters for granted for too long. It was the NDP’s turn to take them for granted.

It was also hardly a miracle when the largest circulation paper in Canada, the Toronto Star, stabbed the Liberal Party in the back and told people in Ontario that it was alright to vote NDP. The paper’s political pundits should have told the editorial writers that the net effect of their foolish ploy was to hand Stephen Harper a Conservative majority.

The two most telling moments of the 2011 federal election were in the English-language television debate between the major party leaders. The first was when you saw how Jack Layton responded to Stephen Harper. It was clear for all to see that there was no way an ill Jack Layton could handle Stephen Harper. The second was when Layton tried to knife Ignatieff on his attendance in the House of Commons. What was telling was Ignatieff’s complete surprise and inability to handle such a spurious and unfair attack.

Jack Layton was no saint. That was a straggling ‘Solidarity Forever’ march behind his casket at that public funeral. The oratory at the event was a lament for what might have been. Stephen Lewis’ eulogy was brilliant, in the tradition of Marc Antony for Julius Caesar. It was a similar call to arms for the mob.

Now we find that Layton’s burial place is to be a shrine. That clichéd, trite, over-written letter that was released after his death is supposed to be some sort of civics guide for school children. Thomas Mulcair has yet to wrest the leadership of his party from a ghost.

Those of us in other political parties who worked against Jack Layton in Toronto through various elections knew him as a strong opponent. When we won a tough one against him, it made the win sweeter.


Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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