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article imageLove and Grief for Canada's Jack Layton Special

By Romeo Marquez     Aug 26, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - A universal outpouring of love and grief is expressed in many different ways, in different languages at Nathan Phillips Square where Jack Layton would lie in repose the next two days.
The two huge condolence books at Toronto's City Hall seemed insufficient to contain an outpouring of love and grief for Jack Layton.
By Thursday, people of diverse cultures speaking different languages were still scrawling messages of affection and sympathy for the late New Democratic Party leader on every available space - on walls, pillars, ground and walkways of Nathan Phillips Square.
It didn't matter how it was said - in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog. What matters was the universal theme: popular love and respect for the man who, as one writer puts it, should be called "Prime Minister".
Jack Layton was in fact the prime-minister-in-waiting as head of a shadow government, being the official opposition leader in Parliament where his New Democratic Party holds a record 103 seats out of 308, the majority occupied by Stephen Harper's Conservative Party.
"A politician who exemplified the best Canadian values!," was how one poster described him. "A man of honour, nobility and inspired leadership . . . a leader who believed in love, a light in the park," said another. "A spark in the dark," declares another.
The unpredictable drizzles have not dampened people's spirits. They queued for long hours for the books to express their deepest appreciation for him, he who stole their hearts, and for his wife Olivia, she whose heart is enwrapped in theirs.
Colored chalks in their hands, huge numbers of people bent, sat, stood, laid on their stomachs and scribbled words and phrases that come spontaneously out of their minds. Besides the pious and the serious-minded, there were jokesters and punsters as well.
No matter. Their messages were sincere, honest, if grief-laden emotional outbursts that showed the range of how the man is loved by the people.
"You were everything Canada needed. I wish we could have recognized it sooner," says one message scrawled near a big potted plant at the entrance to the building.
"You have shown us what true leadership is - to inspire us to do better for each other, from the heart, with compassion" another said in big blue chalk.
Overnight Nathan Phillips Square has become a giant concrete board. Drawings and messages mixed with graffito in a celebration of the life and times of Jack Layton who at one time dwelt in City Hall as a councillor.
His witticisms are also quoted, such as this one: "If the mountain were smooth, we couldn't climb it".
Armi De Francia  a student at McGill University in Montreal  finishes up her message scrawled on the...
Armi De Francia, a student at McGill University in Montreal, finishes up her message scrawled on the ground near the main entrance to City Hall.
One poster defined self-less, an adjective, as Jack Layton. Indeed, as one other poster said: "he was the Jack that raised us higher and stayed connected to us".
He inspired people, fired up their thoughts. To Armi De Francia, a student at McGill University in Montreal, Jack Layton stood for values.
"He was always speaking for the poor and the most vulnerable. He stuck to them the whole time through. Despite his cancer and everything he would still think of the people," she says as she finish up scrawling her message on the ground fronting the main entrance to City Hall.
"Jack Layton was very humanistic. He looked beyond economics, beyond what the numbers would say," says the 23-year-old Armi, a Toronto-born Canadian whose Filipino parents are from Pangasinan and Bicol.
More about Canadian Politics, Jack Layton, NDP leader
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