A year after Jack Layton lost his battle with cancer, NDP deputy leader Libby Davies says his leadership still lives on in the party.
“The work that Jack did, I mean, he gave a legacy not just to the NDP, but to all Canadians,” said the MP for Vancouver East over the phone from Toronto. “And that’s something that’s very much alive.”
Layton had led the party since 2003, but his popularity spiked in the months leading up to the federal election on May 2, 2011.
He campaigned on a platform to bring social change to Canada by working with other federalist parties and holding politicians to account — all with a moustache-crowned smile.
Canadians responded to Layton’s campaign with an Orange Crush. They elected more than 100 NDP MPs, landing Layton the title of Leader of the Official Opposition.
“People can feel very cynical about politics and politicians,” said Davies. “And I think in Jack they saw someone who was constructive, who always looked for a way to propose what should be done instead of a way of deposing something.”
His death less than four months later was a hard blow to the party, which was now composed of numerous first-time MPs, some as young as 19.
But Davies said the loss only brought the party closer together.
“We’re very unified and very strong together, and I think Jack would be very proud of that,” she said.
Despite her party’s successes, Davies said the past year without Layton has been a tough one.
“Personally, I find it very hard to believe he’s not here,” said Davies, who has been with the NDP since 1997. “He was such a big presence in my life over many years.”