Nation mourns passing of Jack Layton

In the wake of NDP leader Jack Layton’s death this past Monday, tributes from Canadians have been pouring in.

Layton, who died after a battle with cancer will be given a state funeral in Toronto this Saturday. He was 61.

Meanwhile, politicians have been speaking about Layton’s influence on the national scene and the legacy he leaves behind.

“When I last spoke with Jack following his announcement in July, I wished him well and he told me he’d be seeing me in the House of Commons in the fall,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “This, sadly, will no longer come to pass.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I salute Jack’s contribution to public life, a contribution that will be sorely missed. I know one thing: Jack gave his fight against cancer everything he had. Indeed, Jack never backed down from any fight.”

Premier Ed Stelmach called Layton an “an enthusiastic and passionate politician who held strongly to his convictions during his long career in public life.”

Layton had also written a letter to Canadians prior to his death in which he encouraged them to be hopeful and optimistic about the future.

“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,” he wrote.

Layton also directed attention to others fighting cancer.

“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.”