The long good-bye

For the life of me I can’t figure out why all the fuss about the death of Jack Layton. A year ago, the entire country seemed to be riveted to the event. Citizens flocked to the Parliament Buildings where he lay in state and descended upon Toronto City Hall to make chalk drawings that glorified his memory. I couldn’t understand the outpourings at the time. After all, he appeared to be a happy political warrior who’d been elected city councillor and then leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition but he didn’t really achieve much of anything that was very lasting other than being the first NDP leader to hold that latter role.

Now, on the anniversary of his death, we’re going through the same keening process all over again. It’s like we’re on track for canonization. My late wife died of cancer, too, so I know what that illness and death must have meant for the family, but, really, a full-blown documentary with scenes from the hospital? And a first-person story by his widow Olivia about her northern canoe trip to find the meaning of life which seemed to be about the best food and wine to carry into the bush? I’m baffled.

I am well aware of the old saw: About the dead say nothing but good. I’m okay with that. But do those good words have to be so relentless?

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