I watched with fellow colleagues at a local hotel, the funeral of Jack Layton. Truly an emotional roller-coaster ride for all those in attendance, and I am certain for anyone who watched it at home.
As odd as it may seem, as funerals go, it was a good one, no, a great one.
Tears, laughter, applause and standing ovations, it made us realize, as a nation, what we have had and lost.
It has been a long time, too long a time, since a politician has ignited the imagination of Canadians.
Watching this, I could not help but think of the fallacy in Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party’s assertions that they are the natural party and that Canadians are embracing their “right-wing” vision of Canada. It has been a long time since we have seen such passion, such fervour for what has defined us as a nation here and abroad, a truly just and socially democratic Canada.
Upon witnessing the outpouring of love, respect and hope from Canadians, I realize that Layton would have surely been a great progressive prime minister. He achieved so much and yet had so much more to give us. His legacy will not be forgotten and, let there be no doubt, Canada will be once again be a united, progressive country and global example.
One could see from the cabinet ministers in attendance, with their deer-in-the-headlight faces, to our prime minister’s uncomfortable and sheepish grin, the Conservatives were very much out of place.
More so were their looks of ambivalence, if not total ignorance of the event. Better yet, the upheaval that was occurring around them. I would have expected that at a state funeral, a representative of the state, be it the governor general or the prime minister himself, would have risen above his party partisanship and demonstrated true leadership, and would have represented all Canadians. (Here for Canada, remember?) He should have had the fortitude, the humility to say a few words on our behalf; I expected no less, I expected better and then, again sadly, I was not surprised.
Perhaps it was better that he didn’t.
Perhaps it’s just coincidence or the cool autumn air, but I can’t stop equating the changing of the season here in the Yukon with Layton’s passing.
It is as if a wind of change is preparing us to renew our true nature as Canadians, as Yukoners.
As a nation, we have another four to five years of waiting. However, here in our territory, with an election shortly on the horizon, we must ask ourselves, do we wish to continue the tired conservative status quo of ambivalence, ignorance and disrespect or do we want a progressive renewal that will challenge all of us to make our home, our territory, a land of respect, of optimism, of opportunity and above all of compassion?
The torch is ours.
NDP candidate, Whitehorse West