Dear Canada, My Home and Native Land

As a Canadian, I recognize that those of us who operate in the online sphere (in my case as a writer) not only have an opportunity to reach out to people around the globe, but also a responsibility to do so.

But, I hesitated to write this post, wondering if a writer’s website was an inappropriate place to write about such a topic. Then I realized it may be the best place to post it. This may not be where I usually divulge my personal feelings, nor should it really be. But my freelance site is mine to use, a place where I can express my thoughts and hopefully influence positive change in the world. So, I’ll depart briefly from writing about outdoor, adventure and travel and take on a more serious subject.

Jack Layton

On August 22, 2011, I woke up to the news that Jack Layton, the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) here in Canada (and the leader of the opposition in Parliament) had succumbed to cancer. Just a few months ago, Layton led his party to their best election results in history, sweeping the Liberals out of the running in what became known as the “orange crush.” For whatever reason, enough voters changed their allegiance to create a dramatically different outcome from previous elections. What was it? Was it Jack? Was it disenchantment with the way Canadian politics had been going?

Jack Layton had a way of rallying Canadians toward a better, more optimistic future. He reminded us how much we take advantage of our life here in Canada when we lose sight of what it means to be leaders and what it means to set high standards – in solving world issues, our environmental crises (including climate change), and more. In his last letter, he wrote something that took a long ride on the Facebook wave this past week:

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.

I feel that Canada has experienced a great loss, saying goodbye to Jack Layton much too early. I have been surprised at my sadness, never having really “known” him. But, I’ll take Layton’s final words to heart and maintain hope that Canada can get a bit more radical, or at least different, in her thinking and see  these words come to fruition.

I’ll get off my little soapbox now. But, this isn’t about politics for me anyway. It’s about honouring a man that worked hard to challenge the status quo. In doing so, he ruffled some feathers, brought new awareness to Canadian voters and left a legacy he should be proud of.

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