With news of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton’s passing Monday morning, many local politicians spoke admiringly about the man who got his start as a city councillor at Toronto city hall in the 1980s.
“We lost a great man, a man who probably could have become the prime minister of Canada,” former mayor Mel Lastman said.
“He would have been a great prime minister,” Lastman added.
Former mayor David Miller, who has known Layton since the early 1980s, spoke of Layton’s dedication and persistence in an interview with CityNews:
“Jack was full of passion,” he said.
“He never attacked people as people. He fought the issues, but boy, he fought hard,” Miller said.
“He believed in his political causes and he would fight tenaciously for them. I can remember on Toronto city council, he led massive political fights about how to help the homeless. One of the results is there’s funding from federal and provincial governments that never existed before. He fought so hard.”
Current Mayor Rob Ford, who worked with Layton when the two were councillors in the 1990s, told CityNews, “He always had a bright smile on his face whether he won or lost a vote….He never let the job go to his head. He was very humble and a people person. He will be missed.”
Former mayor Mel Lastman said in a statement, “As NDP leader, he took the party to unbelievable historic heights. He also strongly believed in the things that he said and did unlike many other elected officials…I offer my sincere condolences to his wife Olivia, his children and the Layton family. I liked Jack!”
Other councillors took to social media following Layton’s death.
Coun. Josh Matlow said, “No words can describe the loss Jack Layton’s family must be experiencing today. Our love & thoughts are with them.”
Coun. Shelley Carroll tweeted, “Thanks Peter Mansbridge for saying, ‘On days like this, the Political Family is one.’ Luv to Olivia, Mike & rest of family.”
“My heart is filled with heavy sadness for Jack Layton’s passing. Sending peace & light to the family,” Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam tweeted.
Layton’s son, Coun. Mike Layton, responded with a brief tweet, saying, “Thank you all for your kind messages and support.”
The mayor said that a book of condolences will be available for the public to sign on the main floor at city hall.
Furthermore, the City of Toronto will be lowering the flags at City Hall, Metro Hall and Toronto civic centres to half-mast until after Layton’s funeral, in honour of his years of public service. Layton spent a combined 18 years on both city and metro council.
Details about his funeral haven’t been disclosed yet.
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