Archive / August, 2011

“Love is better than anger”

The city of Toronto – nay, all of Canada has lost a man of incredible courage,  integrity and conviction. Jack Layton, leader of the NDP party, lost his battle with cancer this morning and, as his family grieves, our nation mourns.

Even those who didn’t agree with his politics couldn’t help but be moved by his passion for change and for his country.  In his final days, Layton took pen to paper and wrote this letter – his last letter to Canadians; a letter that is sure to be quoted for generations to come. And rightly so.

August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

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.

All my very best,

Jack Layton


RIP Mr. Layton. Your powerful words will long be remembered.


Life, the Universe, and Everything

This past Saturday I turned 42. And, as any self-respecting nerd will tell you: that is, in fact, the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Author Douglas Adams’ fictional supercomputer, Deep Thought, spent 7½ million years computing this Ultimate Answer. And, despite my having reached this auspicious number of years alive on our planet, I have yet to be smote with a profusion of enlightenment. Of course, the fact that I most-often act about half that age might have something to do with said lack of wisdom.

Be that as it may – I am fortunate enough that, most years, my birthday lands on a long weekend (during the summer, no less.) Pretty sweet deal, right?

As a kid, though, that sort of sucked. There were no classroom celebrations. And, when it came to having a party with all of my school chums present, most parents had already spirited away my wee pals for family vacations. So it was usually me, my younger brother and my parents when it came to Happy Birthday Weezie Time. Which, in retrospect, wasn’t that bad a deal.

But, now? Now I take great delight in the multiple celebrations that can be scheduled into a weekend with an extra day. And, this year, I got WAY more than just a long weekend. My birthday treats began more than a month before my actual birthday; June 12, to be precise, was when we started celebrating in the Rockstar House.

You see, my husband did something most other husbands would NEVER do. He bought tickets — and took me to see… Glee. Yes, Glee. As in, the Shiny Happy kids from the TV show. And, you know what? Despite his protestations otherwise, I’m pretty sure he enjoyed himself. Because, instead of leaving the room in search of manlier pursuits each week, he sits and watches every PVRd episode with me. He won’t admit it… but I think LX might be a closet Gleek.

But the Pre-Birthday Celebrating wasn’t just limited to one event. Oh no! This year I got a Pre-Birthday Visit with my mom & dad  (an exciting prospect for me, since they live a few provinces away and I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like) and I was regaled with not one, but TWO Pre-Birthday Lunch celebrations with co-workers. Not too shabby.

Mind you, I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant (FIGS – but I wouldn’t bother, unless you have LOADS of time to spare) we chose for the first of the two PB lunches. Not only did they take forever with our order, but they got mine wrong. Credit where credit is due, however: my Eggs Bennie – with Portobello Mushroom instead of boring ol’ ham – was incredibly tasty, once it finally arrived.

Aki Da provided the sushi yums (we ordered in at work) for Part Two of my PB lunch fun. And they even threw in an extra dish at no charge. Unfortunately, the freebie was a bland mushroom roll that none of us really took a shine to. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

I should probably mention, as an aside, that – yes – pretty much all of my birthday celebrations this year did revolve around food. Which plays a large part in why I had to make time for a five-mile run Sunday morning. Totally worth it.

For my birthday proper, LX took me to La Maquette – a gorgeous french restaurant that allowed our entire wedding party to traipse through, last summer,  in order to have photos taken in its adjacent Sculpture Garden.  I’d already been like a fat kid with her nose pressed up against a sweet shop window when it came to this place.  So I think LX knew that, once they’d been nice to me, he really had no choice but to take me there at some point. Lucky for me – it was this weekend!

For anyone in the GTA looking for a great date restaurant — trust me…  you’ll score HUGE brownie points with anyone you take to La Maquette. Not only is this place absolutely gorgeous (all the ivy & overhanging trees manage to drop the temperature on the patio at least 10 degrees – which is a huge deal when the city is continuously issuing Heat Alerts) but they’ve managed to situate everyone such that you don’t feel like your conversation is being overheard by your neighbours at the next table.

Oh, and did I mention the classical guitarist? No streaming iTunes for this joint – no sir! And the food? Magnifique!

After dinner, I decided I had a hankering for a cognac so we decided – rather than spend $55 for two shots at the restaurant (totally guessing at their prices here, incidentally; but I suspect I’m not too far off the mark) – we’d walk around the corner and grab a bottle for the same price and take it home to enjoy on our personal rooftop oasis.

And, as if all of this weren’t enough, I was treated to even more delights the following day. I did haul my arse out of bed early enough to pound out a run, however. So it wasn’t a complete weekend of sloth.

I enjoyed a delightful brunch with LX’s family,  followed by an afternoon of movie watching and then a Girls Night with my BFFs (one of whom toughed out a particularly wretched stomach bug in order to keep the festivities going!)

And, since I did waddle through the aforementioned 5-mile run (turns out it was closer to 5.5, but who’s counting? Oh right – that’d be me), I didn’t feel one iota of guilt when the waitress at our Milestones brunch brought out a complimentary birthday dessert & extra spoons!