Going Green With Jack

Featuring Jack Layton

May 12, 2010
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The story

John Gilbert “Jack” Layton was a Canadian politician and Leader of the Official Opposition. He was leader of the New Democratic Party from 2003 to 2011, and previously sat on Toronto City Council, occasionally holding the title of acting mayor or deputy mayor of Toronto during his tenure as city councillor. He was the Member of Parliament for Toronto—Danforth from 2004 until his death.

From Jack’s last letter to Canadians:

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.

Fun facts

Jack’s father Robert was a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament and served as Minister of State for Mines in Brian Mulroney’s cabinet. Robert started out as a member of the Liberal Party, but shifted to the PCs in the 1980s.

Jack got his PhD in political science from York University in 1983. He got his MA in political science from York and his BA from McGill.

In 1988, Jack “smashed his kneecap” running into a Financial Post newspaper box. The injury meant the newlywed couple, who were due to marry on Algonquin Island later that year, had to cancel plans for white water rafting on their honeymoon.

Jack’s grandfather Gilbert was a Union Nationale MNA in Quebec. The Union Nationale was a conservative party. He served as a minister in Maurice Duplessis’ government before resigning in 1939 over its opposition to conscription for the Second World War.

When he first began dating Olivia Chow, her mother was not a fan because he wasn’t a doctor or lawyer and he wasn’t Chinese. But a language mistake helped win her approval. After having dinner, Jack tried to thank Olivia’s mother for the food. A mistake in tone led him to say “thank you for the good sex” in Cantonese, according to the Toronto Star. Laughter over the mistake began a thawing relations between Jack and Chow’s family.

Jack’s mother Doris Elizabeth (Steeves) was a grand-niece of a Father of Confederation, William Steeves.

Jack and Olivia were big fans of Star Trek, even having custom uniforms made.

The ever-personable Jack concluded the photo shoot with a hearty “say hi to Miguelito for me” and a handshake.

Jack passed away in the morning hours of Monday, August 22, 2011.


Pin It on Pinterest