Death and state funeral of Jack Layton
On August 22, 2011, Canadian New Democratic Party leader and Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton died from an unspecified, newly diagnosed cancer. Prior to his recent diagnosis, Layton led his party to gain a historic rise in seats (from 37 seats to 103) during the 2011 federal election. His state funeral was held on Saturday, August 27, 2011 at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Protocol does not mandate state funerals for a Leader of the Opposition as it does for Prime Ministers and Governors General, but Prime Minister Stephen Harper used his discretion to offer the honour, via the Governor General-in-Council, to Layton's widow Olivia Chow. Layton's death sparked a wave of mourning from Canadians of various political beliefs.
In the early hours of August 24, the flag-draped casket was taken from Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home in Toronto with Toronto Police Service escort towards Ottawa. The hearse arrived in Ottawa, was greeted by a Guard of Honour of Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers and Ceremonial Guard members, and the casket was taken into the Centre Block by pallbearers from the Guard of Honour to lie in state in the lobby for the House of Commons for two days. To a 15 gun salute, the cortege departed Ottawa to Gatineau, Quebec, and Layton's body was then moved to Toronto (via escort from Toronto Police) to lie in repose at Toronto City Hall. There, the casket was taken from the hearse by Toronto Police pallbearers into the Rotunda until Saturday's funeral.
On August 27, Layton's casket was transported from Toronto City Hall to Roy Thomson Hall via mounted police escort. Thousands of people lined the procession route and the event was covered nationwide by Canada's major media outlets.
On February 5, 2010, Layton announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He noted that his father Robert Layton had suffered from the same type of cancer 17 years before and recovered from it. His wife, Olivia Chow, had also recovered from thyroid cancer a few years before. He vowed to beat the cancer and said it would not interrupt his duties as member of Parliament or as leader of the NDP.
Following the 2011 federal election, Layton announced on July 25, 2011, that he would be taking a temporary leave from his post to fight an unspecified, newly diagnosed cancer. There was little discussion as to its type or prognosis, but it has been suggested that it was metastasis into bone cancer or lymphoma. He was hoping to return as leader of the NDP upon the resumption of the House of Commons on September 19, 2011. Layton recommended that NDP caucus chair Nycole Turmel serve as interim leader during his leave of absence. Layton died at 4:45 am ET on August 22, 2011, at his home in Toronto, Ontario.
Upon hearing the news, NDP deputy leader Libby Davies said, "He was a great Canadian. He gave his life to this country. His commitment to social justice and equality and a better Canada in the world and at home. I think that’s how people saw him, they saw the courage that he had. He faced cancer and he kept on working, doing his job, because he felt so strongly about what he believed in." Governor General David Johnston expressed "As leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Mr. Layton was held in great esteem by Canadians for his passionate dedication to the public good... His fundamental decency and his love of our country serve as examples to us all, and he will be greatly missed." Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: "On behalf of all Canadians, I salute Jack's contribution to public life, a contribution that will be sorely missed. I know one thing: Jack gave his fight against cancer everything he had. Indeed, Jack never backed down from any fight." He also expressed regret that he and Layton, both musicians (Harper plays piano and Layton played guitar), had never gotten the opportunity to make good on their promise to "jam" together.
The United States Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson said, "I just received the sad news that Jack Layton has passed away. On behalf of my family as well as the American people I want to express our sorrow to Jack's wife Olivia Chow, his family, and his friends and supporters across Canada. I will never forget the image of Jack campaigning as the happy warrior. His energy, enthusiasm and passion for politics and for the Canadian people were undeniable. Something I will never forget. A standard for all of us."
Spontaneous remembrance gatherings were held in communities across the country, including Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, St. John's, Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Victoria, Surrey, Winnipeg, Brantford, Sarnia, Guelph, Sudbury, and Corner Brook. In Toronto, coloured chalk messages of condolences and appreciation to Layton and his family came to cover all of Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall, to such an extent that city archivists photographed the messages for posterity. Many municipalities offered books of condolences for residents to sign, as did NDP MPs' constituency offices, and the Canadian National Exhibition created a Messages of Sympathy wall for the public to sign. There are currently several grassroots proposals to rename landmarks in Layton's memory, including one for Jack Layton Square in Toronto, and one for Jack Layton Boulevard in Montreal.
During a visit to Parliament Hill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron, paid tribute to Layton, stating that: "I offer sincere condolences to Olivia and his family. His energy and optimism were above politics, and I know he will be missed by all those who serve here."
In lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations to the Broadbent Institute, an NDP think tank named after Layton's mentor and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent. However, since the Broadbent Institute has not been incorporated and lacks charity status, the donations will go to the NDP, which maintains that these funds will be transferred to the Institute in due course. Donations to political parties come with a 75% tax rebate, compared to 25% for charities registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. Elections Canada warned the NDP that it was skirting the law, forcing the party to make changes on its website regarding the donations. Donors would be informed that the party could not issue a tax receipt, and those wishing to obtain refunds could do so. Following the correction, donations were being directed to the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation, a registered charity.
Following Layton's death, his family released an open letter, written by Layton two days before his death. In the letter, he expressed his wishes regarding the NDP's leadership in the event of his death, and addressed various segments of the Canadian population. He ended the letter with:
|“||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|
Lying in state, lying in repose
In the week before the funeral, Layton's body was laid in state at Parliament Hill at the House of Commons foyer and was open to the public from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday then at Toronto City Hall on Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Four Parliamentary security officers were assigned to flank the casket in Ottawa. The funeral began at 2 p.m. EDT.
State funeral service
Layton called Rev. Brent Hawkes, of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, days before stepping aside as the leader of the NDP, to arrange meetings regarding the procedures of his funeral. Hawkes says that even in private, Layton was still confident he would return, but was preparing for all possibilities including his potential death. Layton asked Hawkes to officiate the service.
The honorary pallbearers were former NDP leaders/MPs Ed Broadbent, Audrey McLaughlin, and Alexa McDonough; Greg Selinger, Premier of Manitoba, and Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia; former Manitoba premier Gary Doer, now Ambassador of Canada to the United States, and Roy Romanow, former premier of Saskatchewan; Brad Lavigne, Layton's principal secretary while Leader of the Opposition, Bob Gallagher, former chief of staff to Layton, and Jamey Heath, former research and communications director for the NDP; Marilyn Churley, Tim Flannery, Ken Neumann (National Director for Canada, United Steelworkers), Winnie Ng, Joy MacPhail, and Charles Taylor.
Prior to the formal commencement of the ceremony, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed "Pifa" from Handel's Messiah, and jazz musician Richard Underhill performed Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" and Johann Sebastian Bach's Magnificat.
The choir from the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto sang the processional as the coffin was carried in, followed by a performance of "O Canada" by singer Joy Klopp and pianist Diane Leah.
Shawn Atleo, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, delivered a blessing on behalf of Canada's First Nations community, followed by welcome messages from Hawkes and former New Democratic Party president Anne McGrath.
Passages from a variety of religious traditions were read: a passage from the Bible by Nycole Turmel, a passage from the Torah by Myer Siemiatycki of Ryerson University and a passage from the Quran by Tasleem Riaz of the Asian Communities Council of Canada.
Stephen Lewis, Karl Bélanger, Mike Layton and Sarah Layton delivered the eulogy. Hawkes gave the sermon. Lorraine Segato of The Parachute Club sang "Rise Up", and Martin Deschamps sang his song "Croire". Steven Page, formerly of Barenaked Ladies, sang Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"; Page lives in Layton's riding and has performed at NDP benefit concerts in the past. According to CBC News, k.d. lang's recording of "Hallelujah", from her album Hymns of the 49th Parallel, was playing in Layton's room when he died.
At the end of the ceremony, Layton's casket was carried out as jazz singer Julie Michels sang "Get Together". Organist Christopher Dawes performed Oscar Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom" as the congregation left the service.
His ashes were scattered in three places, Cote St. Charles United Church in Hudson, Quebec where he was raised, on Toronto Island, where he was married, and at the Toronto Necropolis, near where he lived.
CP24's Ann Rohmer and Stephen LeDrew anchored live from Nathan Phillips Square on August 26, the day of public visitations at Toronto City Hall. On the day of the funeral, they started their broadcast at 7 am. All of Canada's major television networks aired the ceremony live. Peter Mansbridge hosted coverage on CBC, Lloyd Robertson hosted on CTV, Dawna Friesen hosted on Global, Avery Haines and Francis D'Souza cohosted on Citytv and Céline Galipeau anchored on Radio-Canada. For Robertson, this was his last major television event, as he retired the following week.
The ceremony was screened live in adjacent Pecaut Square and St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Toronto to accommodate overflow crowds not able to be seated in Roy Thomson Hall, as well as in Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, Quebec City, Saskatoon and other communities.
Public and media comments
The unusually widespread show of public emotion from government, the media, and large numbers of private citizens drew some critical comment. National Post columnist Barbara Kay drew a link between the deaths of Layton and Diana, Princess of Wales, suggesting Harper did not want to come across as detached, as Queen Elizabeth II did. Kay wrote "pre-empted condemnation of his aloofness detachment from human emotion by ordering a state funeral in order to satisfy the teddy-bear grief needs of a nation." Toronto Sun columnist Mike Strobel argued that the grief was over the top, celebrating Layton as a martyr greater in death than life.
However, other columnists such as the National Post's John Moore responded by saying that the public outpouring of sympathy was sincere and the government's gestures were entirely appropriate, given Layton's lifelong contributions in the public interest and the circumstances of his death.
Several activist groups accompanied their condolences of Layton's death by drawing attention to their causes, and a columnist suggested that this posturing could cause cynicism about their public declarations of sympathies.
An Angus Reid Public Opinion survey conducted on August 25 and 26 by representative online panel found that over eight in ten Canadians, including majorities in every region and at least seven in ten Canadians who had voted for other parties in the 2011 election, supported a state funeral for Layton.
A month after Layton's death, sculptor Lea Vivot announced that she planned to sculpt and donate three different bronze statues of Layton: one to be located on Parliament Hill, one for Layton's riding of Toronto-Danforth, and one for his home town of Hudson, Quebec. Vivot had previously sculpted a likeness of NDP founder Tommy Douglas for Douglas's hometown of Weyburn, Saskatchewan.
A year following Layton's death, a headstone of Layton was unveiled at the Toronto Necropolis, one of three areas in which his ashes were scattered. The headstone sits atop a piece of Laurentian pink granite, which was brought over from his Hudson, Quebec.
- Radia, Andy. "Cost of Jack Layton's state funeral questioned as thousands pay tribute". Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- Perkel, Colin (August 17, 2011). "Canada News: Layton wanted funeral to be a celebration of his life. And it was". Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "Statement by Jack Layton, delivered to the media today". New Democratic Party. February 5, 2010. Archived from the original on August 3, 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
- Picard, André (July 27, 2011). "Public officials owe full health disclosure". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Blackwell, Tom (August 23, 2011). "Strong possibility he would not make it". National Post. Canada. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- LeBlanc, Daniel (July 25, 2011). "Layton picks Nycole Turmel as interim leader". Globe and Mail. Canada. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
- "Canada opposition leader Jack Layton dies after second cancer battle". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "Reaction to Jack Layton's death". Toronto Star. August 22, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
- The Huffington Post death notice
- "Reaction to Jack Layton's death: 'Canadian hearts are breaking'". Toronto Star. August 22, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
- Office of the Governor General of Canada (August 22, 2011). "Death of the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- Fitzpatrick, Meagan (August 22, 2011). "Canada mourns 'courageous' Jack Layton". CBC News. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
- "Candlelight vigil on Hill honours Layton". Toronto Sun. August 22, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Canadians look for ways to remember Jack Layton". Global Winnipeg. August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Photos: Vancouver candlelight vigil in honour of Jack Layton draws hundreds". Vancouver Sun. August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Montreal vigil held in memory of Jack Layton". CBC News. August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Teen leads vigil for Layton". CBC News. August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Change of date for Jack Layton remembrance in St. John's". The Telegram. St John's NL. August 23, 2011. Archived from the original on September 19, 2012. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Layton vigil held in Calgary". CBC News. August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Hundreds of Edmontonians mourn 'man of people'". Edmonton Sun. August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Dernier au revoir". Canoe. August 22, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Vigile en hommage à Jack Layton". La Tribune. Sherbrooke, Quebec. August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Vigil honours Layton tonight". The Now. Surrey, BC. August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Manitobans join with other Canadians in remembering Jack Layton". Winnipeg, MB. August 22, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "Emotional outpouring at vigil". The Expositor. Brantford, ON. August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Candlelight vigil for NDP leader set". The Observer. Sarnia, ON. August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Layton represents ultimate equality: vigil organizer". The Western Star. August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- White, Patrick; Church, Elizabeth (August 23, 2011). "Layton's death sparks impromptu memorial at Nathan Phillips Square". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- Mullins, KJ (August 24, 2011). "The CNE pays tribute to Jack Layton with memorial wall". Digital Journal. Toronto ON. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "CN Tower, Niagara Falls plan Layton tribute". CNews. August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved 2013-04-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Les Whittington Ottawa Bureau (August 23, 2011). "Canada News: Broadbent Institute will be part of Layton's legacy". Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "NDP runs afoul of rules | Canada | News". Toronto Sun. April 5, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "Dons: Le NPD essaie de résoudre l'imbroglio". Métro Montréal. August 27, 2011. Archived from the original on August 28, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "Toronto ferry terminal to be renamed in honour of Jack Layton". CBC News. June 6, 2012. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- Layton, Jack (2011), Letter to Canadians From Jack Layton, retrieved August 22, 2011
- "Layton to lie in state in Ottawa, Toronto". Canada: CBC. August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Taber, Jane (August 22, 2011). "State funeral for Jack Layton to be held Saturday". Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
- "How to pay final respects to Jack Layton". CP24. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- Bradshaw, James (August 24, 2011). "A month in the works, Layton's funeral meant to inspire". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Schedule: Jack Layton's funeral". Canada: CBC. August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
- "Jack Layton visitation and funeral details". Global BC, August 26, 2011.
- National Post Staff (August 26, 2011). "Details of Layton's funeral service released". The National Post. Toronto ON. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- "Schedule: Jack Layton's funeral". CBC News. August 24, 2011.
- "An Anthem to Remember". CBC News Network, August 27, 2011.
- Taber, Jane (August 25, 2011). "An emotional return to Toronto for Jack Layton". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- "CTV Edmonton – Layton's ashes to be scattered in three places – CTV News". Edmonton.ctv.ca. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- Jane Taber (October 3, 2011). "Jack Layton's ashes scattered in hometown of Hudson, Que". CBC. Canada. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
- "Headstone for Jack Layton unveiled". CTV Toronto. Canada. August 21, 2012. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
- CTV's blog. "Special live coverage of the funeral for Jack Layton – Saturday, Aug. 27 on CTV | Special | News | Throng". Throng.ca. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "CBC Toronto – Community – Event – Jack Layton State Funeral To Be Broadcast at CBC in Toronto". Canada: CBC. August 24, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "Barbara Kay: Jack Layton shouldn't get a state funeral". Fullcomment.nationalpost.com. August 24, 2011. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- Strobel, Mike. Layton's Path to Sainthood. Toronto Sun. Retrieved on August 25, 2011.
- "John Moore: Why people are mourning Jack Layton | Full Comment | National Post". Fullcomment.nationalpost.com. August 24, 2011. Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- "Kevin Libin: The crass exploitation of Jack Layton's death | Full Comment | National Post". Fullcomment.nationalpost.com. Archived from the original on July 11, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
- Angus Reid Public Opinion. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). angus-reid.com. Retrieved on August 27, 2011.
- "Layton's likeness to be cast in bronze." CBC News. September 25, 2011.
- "Headstone for Jack Layton unveiled". CTV News. BellMedia. August 21, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Death and state funeral of Jack Layton.|