IAM Mourns Canadian Labor Leader Jack Layton


The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada, died this week from cancer. He was 61.

“It is a sad day for Canadians and democracy that this great leader has passed away just as he was reaching his peak,” said IAM General Vice President Dave Ritchie. “Jack supported the Machinists Union in our many struggles and was always available to speak to us when we needed him.”

Layton guided the NDP to become Canada’s Official Opposition for the first time in its 50-year history in the May 2011 elections, all the while battling cancer.

“Jack was with us by video at our National Staff Conference in June,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “It was just after the NDP’s historic win, and his schedule was pretty hectic; but he wanted to make sure the Machinists knew how much he appreciated our help and support. ‘Brother Jack’ was an ardent defender for Canada’s working families. He will be sorely missed.”

Two days before Layton died, he penned a heartfelt letter to all Canadians, asking his wife to release it upon his death. His letter ended with these 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.”

You can read the letter in its entirety by going to the NDP website.

Layton is survived by his wife, Olivia Chow, a former Toronto city councilor, and now a New Democrat Parliament member in Toronto, and his two children, Sarah and Mike, from a previous marriage. Mike is now a Toronto city councilor.