The carefully-crafted ‘Jack Layton’ mystique

“Most people, when they die, they want to die alone, just be with their loved ones… And this guy’s writing a speech to the entire country on his deathbed…Wow, that guy really cared.” – Chalkmaster Dave.

Well, not exactly…

“The letter was first presented as Mr. Layton’s last message to Canadians, as something written by him on his deathbed; only later was it more fully described as having been “crafted” with party president Brian Topp, Mr. Layton’s chief of staff Anne McGrath and his wife and fellow NDP MP Olivia Chow.” – Christie Blatchford, National Post.

But, let’s not allow the cold, hard facts to interfere with Jack’s elevation to political sainthood.

As “Sideshow Bob” comments under Laura Stone’s Toronto Star article yesterday, (see below), “The NDP is little more than a cult, today. They even have an idol, a graven image to worship now. In the real world, though, they really don’t matter at all, being more sound and fury than substance… I am waiting for the first leper to be cured at his graveside.”

On August 25th last year, I posted that “The letter Jack Layton ‘wrote’ with so much help is carefully, perhaps even cynically, designed to squeeze every last drop out of his personal popularity, in order to inspire emotional support for his political party and his ideology for decades to come.

“Young people will be attracted by the artfully crafted mystique, and by the tragedy of his early death, rather than by any rational consideration of socialism and its alternatives. I can see framed copies of his ‘farewell letter’ being given to youngsters by their parents, and to starry-eyed new members by the fawning NDP.”

Enough, already.  Normal people do not wallow indulgently in endless paroxysms of grief, they try to move on.

Jeff Goodall.

Dear Jack celebrates late NDP leader Jack Layton

Toronto Star
Laura Stone
August 21st, 2012

On Wednesday morning, Dave Johnston will gather his chalk and spray and 6-foot canvas and head to Nathan Phillips Square, to spend about six hours recreating a man who has been missed.

Johnston plans to etch his face in black and white, highlighting his smile under the farewell phrase of his final letter to Canadians: “And we’ll change the world.”

Chalkmaster Dave, as Johnston is known, is part of the Dear Jack celebration, an afternoon/early evening tribute to Jack Layton on the one-year anniversary of his death.

Johnston is not involved in a political party. But like many Canadians, he was touched by the late NDP leader’s last words.

Tim Harper: A year after Jack Layton’s death, the NDP remains aloft

“Most people, when they die, they want to die alone, just be with their loved ones,” said Johnston, a 20-year street art veteran who also did chalk artwork at the NDP leadership convention in March.

“And this guy’s writing a speech to the entire country on his deathbed, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that guy really cared.’

“It became inspiring.”

The event starts informally around 2 p.m. in front of City Hall, where impromptu chalk messages sprung up the day Layton died of cancer, early in the morning on Aug. 22, 2011. There will be a visual presentation running all day.

A concert is scheduled for 6 p.m. and features Jason Collett, Ron Sexsmith and Raffi, among others, including a special guest who caters to a younger audience. It is expected to end by 7:30 p.m.

Both Layton’s widow, NDP MP Olivia Chow, and his son, Councillor Mike Layton, are expected to speak to the crowd. Other events are planned across the country.

In a statement, Mayor Rob Ford reflected on his own memories of Layton.

“Like many Canadians, I was saddened to learn of Jack’s passing last year. It’s hard to believe he’s been gone for a whole year already. Jack and I used to sit beside each other in Council. He taught me a lot about sticking to what you believe in and the importance of our institutions. It was an honour and a privilege to have known and to have served in public office with Jack.”

The memorial happens the day after a monument to Layton was revealed at the Necropolis Cemetery in Riverdale, where his family and friends will bury his ashes.

There is also an online campaign,, that encourages Canadians to share their messages about how Layton inspired them, organized by the Broadbent Institute, a left-wing think tank.

“We knew that we could never replicate the amazing outpouring that happened last year,” said Broadbent executive director Kathleen Monk.

“We thought we could create almost … a virtual square, if you will, where people could share their stories and inspire one another about how love, hope and optimism were still playing a role in their lives.”

See original here.  Contains several background links.

See “Layton’s death turns into a thoroughly public spectacle” (Christie Blatchford) here.

See my ‘Jack Layton’ category here.