Saturday, April 25, 2009

Canadian Icon : Jack Layton

Today we present the latest in our occasional series of profiles of the people, places and things that define Canada. Our great nation has been the beneficiary of some of the greatest political minds in history. The names reverberate in the memory of all Canadians who have fallen asleep during history class. They include giants like MacDonald, Laurier, Borden, Pearson, Douglas and Trudeau. They have built this country, led us through wars, catastrophes and social change. Their greatness has been honoured with schools, airports, dollar bills and poorly acted CBC movies. Jack Layton is not one of these men.

John Gilbert "Jack" Layton was born in 1950 in Hudson, Quebec, a small town just outside of Montreal. He comes from a family with a historic political pedigree including a Father of Confederation and a provincial cabinet minister. From a young age Jack was taught that a Layton has never been paid for an honest days work. The men of the Layton clan were known for their soft hands, and their bare heads. As the privileged son of a Conservative cabinet minister there was no person in a better positon to defend the interests of the working class then a boy raised by a series of poorly paid maids. His political savvy was first witnessed when he was elected student council president of his high school. His platform to promise things he could never achieve mirrored every member of the NDP except for Tommy Douglas.

Layton joined the NDP as it was a party he could most easily move up in the ranks. This prompted him to move to Toronto in 1970 after graduating from McGill University. The province of Quebec has never been fertile ground for the NDP and his barren head would have frozen from the cold in Saskatchewan. His French would also be considered astonishing, if he was in the third grade. Taking a job as a Professor at Ryerson, then a polytechnic institute, Jack would teach students forced to take Political Science as an elective. Having to work a grueling 15 hours a week was tough on Jack. He used his spare time to build contacts with hippies, layabouts and anyone else who could help him in his birthright to gain political power.

It took him 12 years but in 1982 Layton finally got elected to Toronto City Council. As a councilor Jack would achieve nothing but oppose anything that could help the city. His opposition to development, the Summer Olympics and the Skydome achieved nothing but adding red tape and sending the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta. While on City Council, Layton met and fell in love with the ethnic political connections of Olivia Chow. They would marry and get close to the working class by living in subsidized housing while earning $120000 a year. They were criticized but cleared of any wrong doing. They subsequently moved out but it had nothing to do with the fact that they were hypocrites.

A political dynamo Layton ran and lost for Mayor of Toronto in 1992 and lost twice in his runs for federal parliament. In his defense, his opponents were June Rowlands & Dennis Mills. Rowlands was an intellectual giant who is best known for banning the Barenaked Ladies for their offensive name. Mills was a drunk kook who was noted for his support of a flat tax and being in the backbenches. The NDP mantra of run until you win or die, was strong in Jack and he finally won a seat in 2004. It took him winning the NDP leadership to convince the electors of Toronto-Danforth to make him a winning candidate. The members of the NDP were convinced the right man to invigorate the party was a city councilor who was a three time loser for higher elected office.

It is as NDP leader that Jack Layton has become a true Canadian Icon. With his trademark porn mustache and winning personality he has taken the NDP to heights it has always achieved; the fourth most popular party in Parliament. In the 2007 election, with the economy crumbling, a boring Prime Minister and a Liberal leader no one liked or could understand, the NDP rocketed to 8 more seats in Parliament. In late 2007 he tried to orchestrate a Liberal-NDP coalition to overthrow the Conservative Harper government. This would have enabled him to become a cabinet minister, but this initiative like everything else Jack has tried failed. It did however manage to convince the Liberals to change leaders which will cost the NDP seats in the next election. Hopefully it does not cost Jack or his wife, also an MP, the massive parliamentary pension to fund their self satisfaction.

Jack Layton, a Canadian Icon.


Diavoli said...

I always judge a man by the woman he sleeps with...

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does anyone eles find that Jack Layton and George Papandreou look like they could be related?

obsc said...

Disturbingly yes... Jack Layton does look like George Papandreou