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A Man the U.S. Should Have Known Better

Cancer Claims Canadian Leader at 61

Thomas Mulcair, left, poses with Jack Layton, who passed away today at age 61.

Thomas Mulcair, left, poses with Jack Layton, who passed away today at age 61.

SafeLawns and the environmental community lost an amazing ally this morning when Jack Layton, the leader of the New Democratic Party in Canada, passed away at 61 after a swift battle with cancer.

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A ferocious advocate for seniors, children and his nation, Layton struck us as someone who made environmental advocacy more than a campaign speech to be forgotten after the election. He was an extraordinary public speaker, obviously comfortable in his own skin and not above self-deprecating humor.

We had the privilege of spending time with Mr. Layton in Hudson, Quebec, on June 17, 2008, just as we were exploring the option of filming what later became the award-winning documentary, A Chemical Reaction. Those of us on the crew came away wishing we had political leaders like THAT back in the United States.

Remarkably, Layton was on the job even in his final hours as he knew death approached. He left the world with these words in a letter to his nation: “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.”

Our condolences go to his friends, family and nation. As I told a Canadian news reporter this afternoon, those of us in the environmental and health community will now need to redouble our efforts. It will certainly take a legion of us to fill Jack’s void.

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About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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  • Cindy Saucier

    Always enjoy your newsletter. Thank you for the touching submission about Jack Layton. Canadians are really saddened by his untimely death. I always admired the man and his demeanour and the way he conducted himself in politics. I really believe he did care about this earth and supported “Green” policies. He just was very successful in winning his party the most seats. I usually either vote Green or NDP, but he was genuinely just such a nice man. It’s too bad and so sad that he didn’t have more time. Cindy Saucier, Russell, Ontario

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