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Jack Layton’s son honours father’s legacy on 10th anniversary of his death – CityNews Toronto

City Councillor Mike Layton says when his father was alive he was a present leader to his constituents and also to his children.

“When we went out for a beer on the odd weekend he was in town and I had issues at my workplace… you could tell you had his attention and he was really listening,” Layton tells 680 NEWS in a phone interview.

Former NDP leader Jack Layton lead his party to its best ever showing in the 2011 election, when an orange wave swept over Quebec and pushed the New Democrats into official opposition status.

Months later, he died of cancer on August 22 of that year.

Layton says he fondly remembers the time in his life before his father entered federal politics and was a city councillor.

“We would be going to protests and demonstrations and organizing meetings and community events before he was the personality that I think a lot of people across the country got to know.”

10 years ago today my dad died. It was a painful loss, but our community & country sent us love in a time of sorrow. I’m eternally grateful. His goodbye letter was meant to console & inspire us to build a more loving Canada. Join us tonight for a concert.

— Mike Layton (@m_layton) August 22, 2021

Current NDP leader Jagmeet Singh spoke at Nathan Phillips Square on Sunday where he was joined by the Layton family in marking the 10th anniversary of Jack’s passing.

Singh shared how Jack inspired him to go into politics when he was contemplating the idea.

“He made me believe that we can actually make Canada a better place, he gave me hope. I saw him as a happy warrior,” Singh said.

Singh also announced his party will introduce a bill after the election to push Elections Canada to rename the riding of Toronto–Danforth to Danforth–Layton.

Layton represented the Toronto riding from 2004 until his death seven years later.

Jack’s wife, Olivia Chow, and his family members launched the “Layton Legacy” project earlier this year to mark the federal NDP leader’s untimely death, a decade ago.

The project allows Canadians to apply for a new academic scholarship and two new awards to be given out in Jack’s name, which will be followed up by a virtual, nationwide celebration of Jack’s life on Sunday.

The event, which is to feature a lineup of activists, “special guests” and artists, is being put together with the help of musician Steven Page, one-time lead singer for Barenaked Ladies.

Layton says he started planning the project before the 44th federal election was called, but says it’s fitting how events played out this way.

“We’ve just gone for two years of a pandemic that has affected people across the country, but affected the most vulnerable people the most. We’re also in the midst of a climate crisis,” Layton said.

He also mentioned the bodies of Indigenous children being found decades later in the country and highlights the moment his father helped former Prime Minister Stephen Harper issue the official apology to Indigenous people in 2008.

“He acknowledges that they were simply words and it’s actions that need to follow that will really define us as a generation of how we respond to the tragic, very difficult and harmful things that generations before us did to the Indigenous people of this land,” he said.

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Despite speaking highly of his father and his time as a federal leader, Layton says he does not see himself following the footsteps of Jack, up to Parliament Hill.

He says his children are the reason behind his choice to not follow his father’s lead.

“I’m a dedicated parent and the thought of not being there to tuck them in is a tough one,” he said. “You can never say never but I work very hard at my existing job at Toronto city council that takes 150 per cent of my time.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus tweeted about Jack’s passing saying in part, “I have never doubted his belief that ordinary people can change the world.”

Layton says he hopes his father’s legacy will continue enhancing the quality of people’s lives without the expense of other Canadians.

It’s been 10 years since the death of Jack Layton.

Jack made me believe it was possible to do politics differently.

He made me believe I could win and be a voice for the people of the north.

I have never doubted his belief that ordinary people can change the world.

— Charlie Angus NDP (@CharlieAngusNDP) August 21, 2021

With files from Mike Leach