Photo credit: National Post
I was shocked by NDP leader Jack Layton’s gaunt appearance and weak voice at his news conference yesterday. He was a shadow of the man he was only a few weeks ago, when last I saw him on television. How quickly a life can change when fate intervenes.
“We can look after each other better than we do today. We can have a fiscally responsible government. We can have a strong economy, greater equality, a clean environment.”
– Jack Layton
Mr. Layton said in his statement that his battle against prostate cancer “is going very well,” however, tests he undertook at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto have revealed “a new, non-prostate cancer.” And so he will “be taking a temporary leave of absence as leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada” so he can “fight this cancer.”
According to his statement, Mr. Layton intends to resume his duties when Parliament meets on September 19.
I hope most, if not all, my readers will join me in wishing Mr. Layton all the best for a quick and full recovery.
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Jack Layton has nominated 68-year-old Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel as his choice for interim leader during his absence. Ms. Turmel—former leader of the labour union, Public Service Alliance of Canada—is the national chair of the NDP’s parliamentary caucus. She does, however, lack the political seasoning of either of that party’s deputy leaders: Outremont MP Thomas Mulcair and Vancouver East MP Libby Davies. While I doubt anyone sees Ms. Davies as leadership material for this Quebec-dominated caucus, surely Thomas Mulcair must feel slighted that he was passed over. Apparently, Mr. Layton wants a Quebecer with no leadership ambitions to head the party in his absence.
Ms. Turmel is reported to have endorsed Quebec sovereigntist parties in past elections: the Bloc Québécois in 2006 and the provincial Québec solidaire in 2007. But she has said that she simply wrote letters to Ottawa newspapers in 2006 and 2007 supporting progressive policies of those parties, but not their independence goals. “I am not a sovereigntist…," Ms. Turmel said in an April 5 statement made during the last federal election.
It beats me how any Canadian can support a separatist party of any political stripe. It simply goes against the grain because I owe too much to this country. I guess I’m just not as sophisticated as the progressive labour unionist Ms. Turmel.