Hi, Jack. May I call you Jack? It seems weird to call you anything else, in spite of never having known you.
Jack, I wanted to tell you how sad I was to hear of your initial diagnosis of prostate cancer. I watched as closely as any of us not directly involved in federal politics can, as your body got weak (from the disease, from the treatment). And I saw you smile your way through it, and respectfully take down anyone who dared to identify your illness as a liability.
I moved to Toronto two years ago, Jack. Moved right into Toronto-Danforth, actually. I was thrilled when I realized you would be my direct representative in the House of Commons. Not only could I say that the NDP as a political party spoke for me, but now you, its leader, were literally doing just so.
This past May, you accomplished something few could even fathom: an NDP official opposition, with an amazing 103 seats. I watched as the results poured in across the country, anxious about the increasing Conservative majority, but also dancing with joy at the vibrant orange glow across our nation’s map. I shared this incredible victory with my then-10-year-old, who begged to stay up to watch the outcome.
“Come on, Jack,” he’d scream at the TV, “GO ORANGE GO!”
There’s something you have to understand about my kid, Jack. He’s … well. It takes a lot to get him engaged in something if there’s nothing in it for him. And the political game for a kid who can’t vote? I thought I was getting myself into a fool’s task with that one. But he was mesmerized. He asked questions of the different parties, talked about platforms, and accepted when I pushed him beyond, “Oh, I’ll choose to think he’s good because you do, mom.” And sure, I’ll admit it: he was completely obsessed with your moustache. You see, Jack, my dad has always had a moustache, and my son has grown up to equate that thick lip fringe with men who are worth his trust.
I saw you once, late one crisp January night in 2006. I lived in Ottawa at the time, and I was walking down Bank Street to Somerset to catch my bus home. I saw you ride past me on your bicycle, trench coat flaring out behind you in the wind you created with your speed. I remember thinking what a fantastic image it made: the great hope of the left, cape swirling behind you, on your two-wheeled steed.
You really did accomplish something miraculous, Jack. Thank you. My thoughts and prayers are with your family at this time, and I am relieved that your body is finally at rest. You were amazing.
And my now 11-year-old will really miss your moustache.