Hon. Jack Layton

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I rise, as other leaders have risen, with a great deal of sadness. I also knew Jack for a very long time and this has been a very rough summer for so many of us.

I want to offer my sincere condolences to everyone in Jack’s caucus and to his wife, the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina in particular. She is an extraordinary woman with unparalleled courage.

I also recognize that many of us last saw each other, not in this place, but in Roy Thomson Hall for the state funeral. I would like to particularly thank the right hon. Prime Minister for his generosity in deciding to give us that opportunity collectively to mourn the loss of a great Canadian.

It was, in the best sense of the word, less a funeral than a true celebration of life. Celebrating together, I think we experienced, as partisans, a moment of our true shared humanity. We experienced together what it means to lose a friend and a colleague. We also saw, and we must always remember, that at the heart of everything we are all Canadians and we all love this country and we would do better to remember it.

We are all, in the end, human. We share the commonality that we are all born, we all die and that the measure of our lives is what we do with the time in between, no matter how short it might be. Jack did a lot in his time. Some of us die in ways that are almost anonymous, as the vigil outside and the walk for justice remind us of the aboriginal women. However, Jack died at the height of his powers. Jack died at the moment he had achieved something so long sought after that our hearts broke for that loss. He worked so hard. He faced, as many colleagues have mentioned, an election campaign, which is always gruelling, at a time that he was also fighting a serious illness, more serious than many of us knew.

That speaks to other words from that same Welsh poet, quoted by my friend, the leader of the Liberal Party. It was Dylan Thomas who talked about how we face death and how we must not give into it, how we must not go gentle. Jack Layton fought harder than anyone I have ever seen. He put more into that last gasp, that last effort, to take his party to where he knew he could lead it. He gave so much of himself.

I will also close with the words of Dylan Thomas who wrote:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

It was in dying that I think Jack most clearly saw and then seized that light.