“Jack”, the new biopic on the late Jack Layton, tells the story of romance and politics behind the charismatic NDP leader. It premiers on Sunday, March 10 on CBC.
As election outcomes go, the results in Ontario’s seem pretty reasonable, though to some extent troubling as well.
In 2005 Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government introduced legislation creating fixed election dates. Elections were to be held the first Thursday in October, starting in 2007 and repeating every four years. There is similar legislation in every province, except Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. The federal government passed legislation proving for four year terms, but within two years Prime Minister Harper ignored the statute and called a general election, hoping to win a majority.
Fixed election dates take away the premier or prime minister’s ability to call snap elections for partisan advantage. All the parties know about the date in advance and can prepare for the campaign. The electoral system is fairer as a result.
Jack Layton’s last letter to Canadians was, as everyone was told from the very beginning, a collegial affair. Layton, party president Brian Topp, chief of staff Anne McGrath, and his wife and colleague Olivia Chow all had input into the final draft.
The letter was hortatory rhetoric, defined as writing that encourages its audience to pursue, or not pursue, some course of action rather than another.
In 1980, Pierre Trudeau defeated Joe Clark’s bumbling regime and formed a new Liberal government. However, he faced a serious problem constructing his cabinet. The voters of western Canada showed they did not much like the prime minister who had taunted them with the question, “Why should I sell your wheat?”
With the passing of Jack Layton last week we’ve lost a charismatic and engaging leader and a strong voice for our country. We’ve also lost one of our biggest advocates for young Canadians. One of the things I loved the most about Jack was his commitment to engaging young people and encouraging their participation in politics. I became involved with the NDP while studying at the University of Ottawa. In September 2006 I went down to a small bar on campus where Jack and his wife Olivia Chow were coming to talk to students. There was no election on and no campaign in sight; they were just taking time to check in.
Our friend and contributor to The Canadian Encyclopedia, Alan Whitehorn of the Royal Military College of Canada, explains the significance of Jack Layton’s legacy and the unique role of the New Democratic Party in Canada on Radio Canada International. Some highlights:
On August 22, 2011, Jack Layton, the leader of the New Democrats, died after a brief and aggressive battle with an unnamed cancer. He was 61. Just months before, he led his party to unprecedented electoral success, becoming the Official Opposition in this year’s federal election in his last amazing race.
Everything about Jack Layton’s rally at Montreal’s Olympia Theatre, the biggest campaign event ever staged by the NDP in Quebec, had a sort of retro flair. There was the 1925 theatre itself, with its rococo red-and-gold plaster details. There was the lead-on band, the aptly named Quebec group Tracteur Jack, which played hopped-up swing. When Layton made his grand entrance, wading through a roaring crowd of more than 1,200, jauntily wielding the wooden cane he carries after hip surgery, he leapt to the podium like a barnstorming politician of old. Now that he’s 60, that signature moustache, which once recalled the disco era, looks more like a tribute to his social-democratic forebears. Some of his applause lines have a time-honoured left-wing ring, too. “A prime minister’s job,” he declares to cheers, “is to make sure the government works for those who have elected him, and not for big corporations.”