[Edit]: You can read Jack's final letter to Canadians here.
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. ~Jack Layton
I woke up this morning to a flurry of tweets about your passing. I hoped and hoped it was some cruel joke like the Gordon Lightfoot death-tweets a few years back but as more and more respectable people added to the tweets and linked to CBC news, I knew that you really had passed away.
There will be a lot written about you in the coming days. It will be mostly good, as happens after someone has passed away. And as it should be when the person was as generally good as you. Stephen Harper has already issued a statement. Between you and me, behind his sadness at your passing, I think part of him is relieved that he won't have to face off against you in the House of Commons this fall.
Of course, that is assuming Harper can feel emotions. Scientists are still running experiments to determine if he can.
You were one of the few politicians that I actually liked and respected. Although I did not always agree with you (politically, I understand why you disagreed with Elizabeth May being in the debates. Emotionally, I think you were a dick about it), I always felt like you put the Canadian population ahead of everything else when it came to your job. You were one of the few politicians I wanted to meet. I wanted to shake your hand and say 'thank you' for restoring my faith in politicians.
You were amazing in the last election. The NDP was the only party with ads on online TV channels, the only one with ads in bus stations, and the only one who really seemed to go after the youth vote. The result was the largest NDP result ever (and in a few of the ridings you lost, you lost by a handful of votes.) and the decimation the Bloc in Quebec. As much as it pained me to see Steven Harper finally get his majority party, I was so proud of the strides you had made for your party.
You were incredible.
There was a passion in everything you did. There was a determination in your actions. Yet, there was a relatability which resonated with people. Canada even voted you the party leader they'd most like to have a beer with. Perhaps it was because you were so passionate and determined that they responded to you. Whatever it was, your passing is a sad day for Canada and Canadian politics.
Thank you for everything you brought to the House of Commons. Thank you for years and years of service on behalf of your fellow Canadians. Thank you for being you: for being open about your fight with cancer, for being passionate about your beliefs, for challenging us all to be better, and for being strong in the face of it all.
You will be missed.