Layton lives on in local NDP hearts

In a letter he wrote just days before his death, Jack Layton reminded Canadians just how great their country was — and how we can make it better.

In a letter he wrote just days before his death, Jack Layton reminded Canadians just how great their country was — and how we can make it better.

It’s that passion and dedication that those who worked with him and his party are remembering following Layton’s death early Monday morning from a second bout of cancer.

“I think everything Jack stood for is basically to better the lives of Canadians and being able to do it not one at the expense of the other, not jobs at the expense of the environment, just working together with industry and labour and to create a better country,” said Alex Atamenenko, MP for B.C. Southern Interior. “That was his vision.”

In a riding that has been held by either the NDP or Tories for decades, the news hit hard.

“It’s a great loss to all of us in the labour movement,” said Armindo Demedeiros, vice president of the United Steel Workers Local 480. “Jack was a real friend of the movement and a real fighter.

“We were all shocked here — we didn’t realize the extent of his illness. He will be sorely missed.”

Atamenenko said Layton was probably one of the best leaders he’s worked with and seen in his career; someone who was open to ideas, logical and willing to change his mind if it was the right thing to do.

“His ability to not only bring our party together, but to unite across party lines, to work with other leaders of the opposition, to work with the Prime Minister, build consensus … He was that type of person I feel would have made a very fine prime minister and really got Canada working not only internally for unity but also on the world stage.”

Even those who didn’t share similar political views with Layton were upset about the news, remembering him as a man who fought for what he thought was right.

Losing a leader like Layton always has an impact, but Atamenenko said the party will have enough time to continue building on Layton’s vision before the next election.

Demedeiros seconded that, saying he didn’t believe the relationship between local labour organizations and the party would change without Layton at the helm.

“Over the years they’ve been the one who has listened more to the working man, the blue-collar work. I think it will be hard to find a good replacement for him … But I don’t think the ties or relationship between the NDP and labour will change.”

The two also remember with clarity the personal side to Layton.

Demedweiros had the chance to meet Layton more than once and said people were naturally attracted to him.

“His charisma was like a light to me, when you saw him come into the room it was like a light went on. People were just attracted to him and he was full of energy all the time.”

Atamenenko recalled a time he was in Toronto supporting an initiative that was at the same time a local musician was playing in the city. He invited Layton to the concert, where the two hung out with some Nelson residents before heading to one of Layton’s favorite Greek restaurants in the riding.

“We sat there and talked about life and politics and I’ll never forget that evening because I had a chance to get to know him a little bit better.”

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Most Read