It will not do my readers much of a service to announce that Jack Layton has died. To non-Canadian readers, the name will probably mean little or nothing; Canadian readers in the past week will have heard of little else.
Jack Layton was the leader of the left-wing New Democratic Party, the only political party whose candidates I have ever voted for. He died of cancer on 22 August, at the relatively young age of 61 – at the peak of his career. Until Layton took over the NDP, the party had never received more than 44 of the roughly 300 seats in the Canadian Parliament. Earlier this year, under his leadership, the party earned over 100, most of those in Québec – where the party had never held more than a single seat before. It received more than twice as many seats as the third-place Liberals, a party which had governed Canada so often that it viewed itself as the “natural governing party.” And a great deal of this rapid rise derived from Layton’s personal popularity. His funeral has now been receiving coverage in Canada comparable to that of Princess Diana’s – at a time when it is held as a commonplace that people hate politicians and are fed up with them. His life and death moved a great many. My American wife, who a year ago didn’t know who Jack Layton was, was moved to tears watching the coverage of his memorials.
Now why am I going on about Jack Layton on a philosophy blog? Continue reading