Tag Archives: NDP

Ah, Jack, we hardly knew ye…

A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world.
John Updike

I am so sad to hear about the loss of Jack Layton, a man who DID take upon himself the woe of the people, who fought for those people, and who had a vision for Canada that included people who live with challenges of all sorts. Whether you agree with his politics or not (and, full disclosure here, I do!), you’ve got to admire Jack. He was a scrapper, but not a dirty fighter – he stayed true to his ideals, even when faced with opposition from without and even from within his party. He was honourable. As politicians go, he had heart, integrity, and courage.

We are going to miss him so.

I had the pleasure to meet Jack and Olivia when I was briefly intensely active with the NDP. He was charming, Olivia even more so, but you could not doubt his conviction. I like that in a person. He knew what he wanted to see, he worked tirelessly to get it. Along the way, he listened to people, took their advice, grew into a statesman, adapted.

Some people faulted him for that. I know those old-time socialists, who feel that even speaking to a non-member was sacrilege. I’ve met them. They are intransigent, as closed-minded as the right-wing that is in charge of the country at present. One of the things that impressed me most about Jack was that he was able to adapt, based on what people told him. He was able to clearly show a vision for the country, based on what he had learned.

We’ve had so few leaders of late. Pierre Trudeau, Ed Broadbent, maybe Frank McKenna. What we’ve been dealing with are managers. I was one of those once, and that’s not what is needed to lead a country. It involves endless miniature steps in the dark, with no idea of where you are going, justifying every inch forward with forms in triplicate while lying to those above you and below you in the chain to make yourself and your team look good. It almost killed me. It is killing Canada.

I had hope, soaring hope, when Jack was elected Leader of the Opposition. I thought, finally, someone with the ability to see the big picture, to push for it, with the strength to make it happen. Unfortunately, the battle to get there seemed to exhaust his strength, encourage the cancer to sneak in hidden pathways. I’m so glad he was able to see his triumph, but so destroyed we won’t have a chance to see him grow into it. And I am in fear of the tyranny of the Harper Conservatives, their false ways, their hatred for knowledge and science and progress and people, their love for money.

I know there are other leaders in the wings in the NDP. I’m hoping they have the courage to step forward to try to fill Jack’s place, though it will be difficult. We need a strong opposition now, more than ever.

It’s not enough to just be sad, to wish for things to be different.

The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
Ralph Nader

I take up Jack’s challenge, in honour of his sacrifice. It’s time to get back into the political ring, to fight for what we need for the least of us. Or even the middle of us. Or at least to CARE about where we in Canada go, with this great country of ours. What about you?

We’re sure gonna miss you, Jack.

Sometimes, you just feel like you hate everybody….

Ach.  The January blues have me by the throat. I am grumpy, yes, and think that the only solution is to take to my punching Wii game and work out some of my inner phlegm.

It’s a sucky time.  My uncle remains entrapped in the hospital. I feel so badly for his family, coping as they are with the uncaring busyness of the health care system – people’s hearts may be in the right place, but the system is overworked with flu patients and so things are not going well for him.

Why are the hospitals overwhelmed with flu patients?  Because people decided that since the pandemic wasn’t as scary as it could have been, they didn’t need their regular flu shot. And there are the anti-vaccine lobby who are still arguing that vaccines cause damage even though the study that supposedly showed that has been proven to be fraudulent. But hey, why not argue with scientists with years of experience? After all, we’ve all heard about science on TV…

Everyone is talking about guns and how we need them. Or talking about how Haiti is still in ruins. Or looking for Michael Ignatieff and wondering how the heck we are going to have any liberal representation in government? Or beating their heads against the wall looking for ANY media coverage of the NDP, which for some reason never appears. Or, for heaven’s sake, reading aloud books by Snooki.

People are posting me email about how tired they are about paying taxes that support the lazy. Egad. Yes, that $500/month the average single person gets on Ontario Works is astonishing.  What CAN they be spending it on?  Surely not rent! And yet the same “I don’t want to pay taxes” whiners complain regularly about the lack of city services, the health care system, the roads, school closures….where do people think the money for these things comes from?

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because of too much red wine (my project – Alcoholic writer – is progressing apace. It should be easier now that I’ve tossed the friend who drank all my scotch – it was getting unaffordable to sustain! Even a casual customer at the liquor store expressed horror at the scotch slurping: “Single malt?  That just ISN’T done!”) and not enough sleep (my puppy is a morning pup, alas). Or maybe it’s because I was all psyched up to skate today and the snow ruined the canal conditions and I’m too chicken to try when the conditions aren’t good. Or maybe it’s because I am getting so good at procrastination from writing that I am actually contemplating moving my (many) bookshelves from one side of my den to another to avoid writing.

I just feel grr. Add to that the feeling that I’ve wasted hours of my time on people and things that don’t matter. I’ve got to get moving, reinvent myself again, find some kindred spirits to go with the lovely ones I do have (many of whom are related to me)(and some of whom are so far away), get myself going on the writing stuff, train my dog to sleep in, stop drinking wine (well, maybe not that one), get used to blended scotch…

And then there are the bright spots – the tulips I found today at the grocery store that made me smile and that everyone in the line enjoyed, the staff at the checkout who laughed with me, the way Chutney the puppy plays in the snow, the beauty of other’s writing that will gradually hone my own.

I need to learn how to be on my own again, after a long time with a chum.  It’s not easy, and every once and awhile the sky seems grayer than usual.

But a news fast (sorry CBC) and some exercise, and maybe lashings of water, might just bring me around.  That, and a cozy fire, and a cuppa tea.