We’ll Miss You Jack

CANNABIS CULTURE – NDP Leader Jack Layton, champion of progressive causes and friend to Canada’s cannabis community, lost his battle with cancer, passing away early this morning.

Jack had been a crusader for the rights of Canadians even before his entry into local Toronto politics in 1982 and was a long-time advocate of reform to the country’s drug laws.

He was elected leader of the New Democratic Party in 2003 and went on to become the most popular leader in the history of the party. In the 2011 election, he led the NDP to unprecedented popularity and minority status with 103 seats in the Canadian House of Commons.

Jack suffered from and beat prostate cancer during the election, only to find out months afterward that he was afflicted with an even more serious case of cancer. He passed early this morning surrounded by family and loved ones.

In 2003 Jack appeared on Pot.tv in an interview with Cannabis Culture publisher and Prince of Pot Marc Emery.

Stay tuned to Cannabis Culture for more about Jack Layton and what he meant to the cannabis community in coming articles, videos, and blog posts from drug reform activists.

Jack’s family released this letter today written by the ill politician before his death. We hope all Canadians read Jack’s inspiring words and heed his wise advice:

August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton



  1. Chris on

    I have been filled with a loss that has left a hole of something missing. I was 34 years old and only found over the years one person I felt had the backs of the people. I watched for many years as government leaders worried more about large companies then regular every day people. I never thought this day could or would come before Mr Layton had a real chance to change Canada for the better.

    I must say I have wrote government in the past and never got a reply and yet My Jack Layton and his office made sure to call me about my problems and offer help something no other government people had offered. I am just a little person disabled but still the NDP under the leadership of Jack Layton felt the need to not only reply but call me and speak to me in person about my problem and offer hope something Jack was known for given every day people in Canada.

    I will miss Mr Layton like a child misses his father because MR Jack Layton cared about every Canadian not just some and always fought for us the every day people something I can only hope the NDP continues to do while Jack watching over us from above with reminders of his hope and wishes for us all.

    I also want to thank his family for being willing to share this great man with the rest of the country and the world as we in some cases feel a loss of family that only wanted the best for his fellow family members and friends.

    The words of such a man on his last days will forever bring hope fairness and love in the minds of my family and many others forever.

    Thanks Mr Layton for your kind thoughts hopes and wishes for all of us even on your final days with us in body and soul and hope only we are able to put a smile on your face as you watch us grow from beyond.

  2. Anonymous on

    Rest in Peace Jack

    You always seemed the best of the bunch :)

  3. Anonymous on

    U are a moron, he made several public statements on television about demonizing marijuana, and saying it was bad. Mark himself noted this, And it showed how politicians are duplicitous fair-weather friends, and whEn his party was nothing he made a small video with mark, and once he became something , by us potheads going door to door to win him Ndp seats, he became just like the rest. Notice Obama and his turncoat lies. Corruption is more rampant in the developed world than momar kadafi in his 3rd wOrld.

  4. bb54 on

    Jack Layton was truly a remarkable man, a great great Canadian and for sure under his govern, I believe that a workable marijuana tolerant program would have been possible one day and a more humane approach adopted for our sweet Mary-Jane.Jack,you will be truly missed and as I write these lines I cant retain tears and I have been shedding tears all day thinking how nice a place Canada would have been with Jack as prime minister with a majority government.

  5. ganjarefermon on

    Does anyone know if he used Rick Simpsons Hemp Oil?

  6. Anonymous on

    he never reversed his position in fact the ndp was telling people that the official party stance was full on legalization.

  7. Anonymous on

    RIP Jack

  8. Anonymous on

    It was my understanding that he reversed his position on legalisation of cannabis sometime in the late 2000s.