It was an emotion-packed, life-affirming day.
I’ve always tried to make this blog somewhat of a record of my life, however fragmented, warts and all. Here in the archives is my defiant abandonment of the New Democratic Party for, let’s say, greener pastures. However right it felt at the time, and for a couple of by-elections and a general election after, I have been back to embracing my NDP sentiments for a while now.
Unless I am mistaken, my leaving had only minimal impact on the party at the national level. However, at the level of my local riding association on which I served as a member of the Executive, there are amends to be made when the time is right.
This is all swirling through my conscience this week as Canada observes the passing of NDP leader Jack Layton. Everything from his departing letter to Canadians to the public outpouring of affection for Jack-the-man serve to point out what a great loss the country has suffered.
In one of several meetings with him, I remember running into Jack in the corridors at the national convention held in Quebec City a few years ago. I had something, forgotten now, to discuss with him. Surrounded by his closest aides, anxious to continue their walk, he pulled me to his side and said, “Walk with me.” We conversed, I was satisfied, and the convention proceeded as he headed to the stage. I don’t know whether Jack always knew my name, if ever, but he always knew my face and knew my passions, particularly as an AIDS activist.
We grew up about forty kilometers, and nine years, apart - Jack in Hudson, me in Valleyfield. Hudson is on the Ottawa River, Valleyfield on the St. Lawrence. Friends moved up there midway through high school so I used to cycle across the flat St. Lawrence Valley and make the huge climb up into the hills which hugged the Ottawa. It was an athletic feat for someone not otherwise very athletic! I particularly remember making the trip to see the Olympic torch run through Hudson on its way to the 1976 games in Montreal.
I look forward to what is sure to be an outstanding send-off to Jack on Saturday, and to intentionally re-connecting with NDP friends in the days ahead.