The Broadbent Institute's new project, Change the Game, takes a critical look at the history of social democracy in Canada, with the intention of learning from the successes and challenges of the past in order to build the best possible path forward. We invite you to join us in rethinking and renewing social democracy by reading other entries in this series.
Fifteen years ago today, Jack Layton became the Leader of the federal NDP at the Toronto Convention Centre. While delegates did not know it at the time, he would go on to become the most electorally successful leader of the federal CCF-NDP and bring the party closer to its dream of forming the federal government than it had ever been.
Every day across this vast country of ours, groups of people get organized and work together to make their neighbourhood, city, province and nation a better place.
Often invisible and unheralded, these efforts are actually the wellspring of social progress. As anthropologist Margaret Mead notes in her well-loved quotation, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
Posted by NationBuilder Support · July 26, 2012 8:01 AM
Thursday, July 26, 2012 by: Carol Martin
The Broadbent Institute wants to know how Jack Layton's message has inspired Canadians in the year since he lost his battle with cancer.
One year ago Wednesday Federal NDP leader Jack Layton told the country he was stepping down, "at least for now".
A "new form of cancer", he said, was discovered the week before and he would be unable to stand as the official Leader of the Opposition.
The news came in wake of his meteoric rise in popularity during the 2011 Federal election campaign, a campaign he started shortly after hip surgery.
In February 2010 he had also announced that he been diagnosed with prostate cancer but he said it would not interfere with his duties as leader of the New Democratic Party.
He proved himself a more-than capable leader during the 2011 leadership debates and, under his leadership, the party won 103 seats, more than double its previous high, in the 41st Canadian General Election on May 2, 2011.
Layton led his party and the Opposition for almost two months before Parliament rose for the summer on June 23.
By the end of the 2011 election campaign 97 percent of Canadians beleived Layton was the man who would make the best Prime Minister of Canada.
Sadly, on August 22, 2011, Layton lost his battle with cancer.
But he left behind a message of love, hope and optimism.
"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world,"
he wrote in a letter he gave to his partner, Olivia Chow, to share with Canadians, "in the circumstance in which I cannot continue," he said.
Canadians now have an opportunity to share what Layton's message has meant to them through DearJack.ca They are invited to sign in and tell the world how his message has inspired them to change the world.
On the first anniversary of Layton's passing many of his family and friends will visit Nathan Phillips Square on to celebrate Jack’s message of love, hope, and optimism.
Canadians are also encouraged to organize gatherings and events to mark the date of his passing on August 22 and to share those events at DearJack.ca
Rebecca Lindell, Global News : Wednesday, July 25, 2012 10:59 AM
Love, hope and optimism? A think tank is marking the first anniversary of Jack Layton’s death by asking Canadians how the politician’s dream has inspired them.
The NDP leader stepped down a year ago Wednesday to focus all his energies on his battle with cancer, a disease that ended his life in August 2011.
In death, Layton left Canadians a letter urging them to forge a path towards a better Canada, one of greater equality, justice and opportunity. The letter ended with these final words: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
The words became a mantra for the millions of Canadians who grieved Layton in the weeks and months to follow. Now a year later, the Broadbent Institute has launched a social media campaign called “Dear Jack” to ask Canadians how they see that dream alive now.
“It was always really important to (Layton’s) family that the letter was not just meant to touch Canadians, but was actually to be a bit of a call to action for Canadians to actually envision a more loving, hopeful, optimistic, progressive Canada,” said the institute’s executive director Kathleen Monk.
Monk said Layton’s family knew Canadians would want to commemorate his death, so they came up with the idea to ask Canadians how they responded to that call to action.
“Why not go back to those values of love, hope and optimism and ask Canadians to give us a report back and to tell us how that message touched them and what they’ve been doing to keep that message alive,” Layton’s son Mike said of the campaign.
The hub of the campaign is DearJack.ca, a website where Canadians can go to share their words, photos and videos. Canadians are also being encouraged to post on the Dear Jack Facebook page or tweet using the hashtag #DearJack or #cherJack
Dozens of people had posted since the site went live Wednesday morning, with many thanking Layton for his life and sharing memories of a favourite speech or moment. Others were inspired to get into politics.
“Your work inspired me to be more active in my community and, especially because of your 2011 election campaign, to begin my political career. You’ll never be forgotten!” wrote Alec Smith.
While Layton, a Toronto politician, was known as a staunch New Democrat, the Dear Jack campaign is meant to be non-partisan, according to organizers.
“There are those with many political stripes who share in the belief that we should be building a more optimistic, loving and hopeful Canada, sometimes they just don’t share how to do that. This platform gives everyone the platform to see what they are doing,” said Mike Layton.
The NDP is not officially affiliated with the campaign, which is being run by the Broadbent Institute, an independent think tank.
“Jack was a political leader,” Monk said. “Jack’s message was directed in a very non-partisan way. He recognized our county needed to cooperate and work together if we wanted to be the country we want to be.”
Just months before his death, Layton led his party to a historic electoral victory that saw the NDP become the Official Opposition for the first time. Layton started the campaign using a cane as a result of hip surgery, but as the days wore on Layton recovered his energy and finished strong.
By July 25, 2011 things had changed and a frail Layton held a press conference to announce he was facing a new battle with cancer – a fight that would require him to step back from his political duties temporarily. He died on Aug. 22, 2011.
The Dear Jack campaign will culminate on the anniversary of that day in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. Layton’s family will join with others inspired by his message to write their own messages, to watch Dear Jack submissions broadcast and to enjoy some artistic performances.
Posted by NationBuilder Support · July 25, 2012 5:20 AM
BY RABBLE STAFF | JULY 25, 2012
Hard to believe, but it's already been almost a year since Jack Layton passed away. His death and his powerful last letter to Canadians impacted the whole country, and people responded spontaneously, sharing their memories and their 'love, hope and optimism' on social media and with messages in chalk that repeatedly covered Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.
This week, the Broadbent Institute has launched a new initiative called 'Dear Jack,' encouraging people to share messages about how they are contributing to advancing social justice. Sarah Layton, Jack's daughter, explains the new campaign in an article in yesterday'sToronto Star:
My father's best talent and pleasure was to empower people around him. Growing up, he'd push me and my brother Mike to open our hearts to become the best we could be. I know his colleagues in politics experienced that as well. And in his final days, he embodied that essence of his in an open letter to Canadians. A love letter, really, ending with his famous challenge: “Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world...
If my dad’s message has moved you, write him back. Let others know how you’re renewing your own love, hope and optimism in this country of ours.
Posted by NationBuilder Support · July 25, 2012 4:15 AM
by Aaron Wherry on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 8:00am
The Broadbent Institute has launched a memorial campaign at DearJack.ca, which Sarah Layton introduces in an op-ed for the Star.
Since then, many people have told me how my dad’s message has moved them to action in their own lives. That’s the best tribute anyone could ever pay him. I know how much he’d love to see those personal stories shared. And I’d like to invite you to do just that — between now and Aug. 22, the anniversary of his death.
If my dad’s message has moved you, write him back. Let others know how you’re renewing your own love, hope and optimism in this country of ours. You can do that by visiting http://dearjack.ca. Created by the Broadbent Institute, this is an online space where you can express yourself in whatever way feels right — in text or in images. I’ll be visiting the website and I’d be honoured if you’d join me.
Posted by NationBuilder Support · July 24, 2012 9:55 PM
OTTAWA- A new social media initiative provides a forum for Canadians to share how Jack Layton's message of love, hope, and optimism lives on.
Spearheaded by the Broadbent Institute, the Dear Jack initiative is supported by the Layton family and people across the country.
"Jack showed us that being compassionate and loving in politics can and will lead to success. I've seen Canadians across the country embrace Jack's message. I'm excited to see his legacy recognized through DearJack.ca," said Olivia Chow, Layton's widow.
Jack Layton stepped down as Leader of the Official Opposition one year ago today. His remarkable career, determined battle with cancer, and powerful parting letter inspired Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
"This is an inspiring way for Canadians to come together to express how Jack's work lives on," said Kathleen Monk, Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute.
Expressions in words, pictures, and video can be posted at DearJack.ca. Tweets featuring the hashtags #dearjack and #cherjack will also appear on the site; a Dear Jack Facebook page supplements the campaign.
"My family has been deeply touched by the support of Canadians over the past year. Every day, people strive to make this country even better, just as my dad encouraged us all to do in his last letter. DearJack.ca is a powerful platform for expressing how we're affecting change and for inspiring one another", said Mike Layton.
On August 22, family and friends of Jack Layton will commemorate the one year anniversary of Jack Layton's passing in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square where multimedia highlights from the Dear Jack initiative will be screened. Other commemorative grassroots events are expected to take place across Canada the same day.
Posted by NationBuilder Support · July 24, 2012 2:09 AM
24 July 2012, Globe & Mail
A think tank founded to advance Jack Layton’s social-democratic ideals is asking Canadians to share their thoughts about how the former NDP leader’s final message of love, hope and optimism has affected their lives.
Posted by NationBuilder Support · July 23, 2012 10:34 PM
24 July 2012, Toronto Star (Op-Ed by Sarah Layton)
You called him Jack Layton. I called him Dad. He would have been 62 last week. And I can hardly believe that more than a year has passed since we celebrated his last birthday. So much has happened since — in our family, across our country.