Jack Layton, the New Democratic Party leader who led his party to Official Opposition status in this year’s federal election, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 61.
“We deeply regret to inform you that the Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today,” his wife, MP Olivia Chow, and children Michael and Sarah Layton, said in a statement. “He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones.”
Also with him early Monday morning were his mother-in-law Ho Sze Chow and his brother Rob Layton, a source close to Layton told the Star.
His other brother, Dave Layton, was there earlier but left shortly before he died, the source told the Star. There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.
“Your support and well wishes are so appreciated. Thank you,” Layton, posted to the social-media site Twitter in July after announcing he was battling a new form of cancer. “I will fight this and beat it.”
It ended up being the last public announcement he would make in his long political career, which saw him evolve from campus activist to rabble-rousing left-wing municipal councillor to the most electorally successful leader of the federal New Democrats in history.
Layton had been on a leave of absence as party leader since July 25, when he temporarily stepped aside to fight a second — and evidently much more serious — bout of cancer.
It is cliché to say that a politician has politics in his blood, and yet there are few politicians who embody it the way Layton did, with his family involvement in the life reaching all the way back to the birth of the country.