|'Smilin' Jack'-A well-deserved nickname of affection|
But many, many Canadians did.
The success of the Ndp in the last federal election can be squarely attributed to his tremendous popularity and personal charisma, especially in Quebec, where almost everyone voting for the Ndp, voted for Jack and not the local candidate or even the party platform.
Not since Pierre Elliott Trudeau did a Canadian politician capture the hearts and minds of so many Canadians, transcending politics and party affiliation.
It's somewhat two-faced to praise someone in death who you didn't like or support in real life, but I can say with honesty that I felt remorse at the passing of someone who meant so much to so many people.
If Moammar Khadafy or Bashar al-Assad dropped dead tomorrow of a heart attack I would probably raise a glass in celebration.
But even though I disliked Jack's politics and that of the Ndp, I cannot help but feeling badly for his family and for the loss that so many Canadians feel.
The Ndp has been blessed with worthy and principled leaders, more than any other federal party. Although in my estimation Jack Layton doesn't hold a candle to Tommy Douglas, Ed Broadbent, or David Lewis, he did deliver what all of them could not -opposition status.
That was no mean feat, attributed to one thing and one thing alone- the popularity and the connection that Jack made with so many Canadians.
For that, Jack should go down in history as one of the most beloved politicians in Canadian history, much as it pains me to say so.
He was a card, a bullshitter, a button pusher, a politician extraordinaire, but he inspired people to believe in something better.
How many Canadian politicians can say the same?
Our Parliamentary democracy functions best when there is a strong, vibrant opposition, one that presents an alternate view of the universe and attacks the government over base principles.
In it's brief tenure in the last Parliament, the Ndp put up a feisty defence of the Post Office back-to-work legislation, that set a tone for what was to come over the next years of a majority government.
I was truly looking forward to years of strident and effective opposition. Without Jack, the Ndp is diminished and so too, effective opposition.
His loss will be felt by all of us who support democracy.
Heaven help us if Thomas Mulcair wrests the laurel of power from the Ndp.
He is everything that Jack was not- cynical, cruel, phony and a shameless self-promoter.
You don't have to be a supporter to acknowledge the contribution that Jack made to the Canadian political scene.
His tragic passing, in the prime of his political life is cruelly unfair on a personal level and reminds us all to live in the moment.
Jack Layton - July 18, 1950 - August 22, 2011, RIP