Layton’s illness jolts Ontario New Democrats

Robert Benzie Queen’s Park Bureau Chief

He is possibly the most charismatic politician in Canada, a popular leader coming off a remarkable election campaign with long coattails.

NDP Leader Jack Layton single-handedly propelled his party into official opposition by engaging young voters and winning over Quebec like no federalist leader since Brian Mulroney or Pierre Trudeau in their heyday.

And New Democrats in Ontario had eagerly anticipated soaring in Layton’s jet stream during the Oct. 6 provincial election.

But his stunning announcement Monday that a second — and apparently more serious — bout with cancer was sidelining him jolted people across the country, including at Queen’s Park.

“It’s gutting, but we’re also moved and inspired,” a senior provincial New Democrat, who is close to Layton, said Tuesday.

“He has changed the party’s culture from one that’s not just about being the conscience but that wants to actually win,” said the insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could speak candidly.

“Don’t underestimate what this is all going to mean for the party’s grassroots. (Party president) Brian Topp said it best: we are all angry at the cancer. That’s a real rallying cry,” he said.

“If Jack can show such courage fighting his cancer we should all be inspired by that.”

But Layton, whose party won 22 of Ontario’s 106 federal seats on May 2, is such a party icon that his absence from the campaign while undergoing treatment is bound to have an effect on provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, the source conceded.

“It’d be naïve to suggest that Jack not being able to help Andrea wouldn’t have some kind of an impact. He’s certainly a huge asset to Andrea and to the (Ontario) party,” he said.

“But even if he’s not with us on the campaign, he’ll be with us on the campaign — whether he’s on the stage or not.”

Horwath, for her part, insisted she is far more concerned about her friend’s health than mere electoral politics.

“Jack is going to be focusing on Jack and you know what, I support (him) 100 per cent,” she said Tuesday.

“Maybe he won’t be able to show up at certain events — and that’s okay. Everybody would rather us not ask even and make sure that he’s focusing on getting well and focusing on a successful treatment,” she said.




Layton rose to power by his promotion of hatred towards fathers. Over the last 20 years, Ontario has steadily removed children's rights to have a relationship with their father.

The odds are that Andrea Horwath will continue the NDP war on men. Andrea Horwath portrays herself as a "single mother", to an 18 year old adult male, without any mention of her "former partner" her son's father.

Andrea shows all the concern in the world over lesbian suicides but fails to acknowledge that the NDP's war on men has resulted in more men killing themselves than men who die in combat and on the roads combined.