Jack Layton, the dynamic, well-loved leader of the New Democratic Party Of Canada who brought them in to the role of Official Opposition for the first time in Canadian history this past spring, has just announced that he has been diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer that requires immediate treatment. As such, Layton is taking a Leave of Absence as leader of the NDP and Leader of the Official Opposition to seek that treatment. Layton is under the care of the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. He has reassured everyone that he intends to be back when parliament resumes on September 19th in Ottawa. In the interim, Layton has recommended that house leader Nycole Turmel step in as interim leader. This will be confirmed by NDP caucus in meetings on Thursday.
Layton has been battling a well-known case of prostate cancer for many months, most notably during the spring election campaign which he waged with a cane at his side at all times. However, during the last session of Parliament Layton began to feel unwell, and sought out further testing. It turned out his prostate cancer appears to be well behaved, with his PSA numbers low. However, the tests revealed another form of cancer. Layton has chosen not to disclose what form of cancer he is currently battling.
Layton is by far the most popular party leader in Canadian politics, consistently eclipsing that of both other party leaders during the last election. It was that popularity that was also credited with the landslide victories by the NDP in that election, particularly in Quebec where they won an unprecedented 58 of the province’s 75 seats. Layton’s friendly, straight-talking manner, hard work ethic and ability to really connect to those with whom he speaks means he is almost universally loved by Canadians, even those who do not vote for him.
Best wishes, Jack. Give ‘em hell.
Photo Credit: MattJiggins on Flickr