Pastor Dave  

Jack Layton's Canada



August 22nd was a sad day for so many Canadians. Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party (the Official Opposition), passed away after a fight against what is being called, “an undisclosed type of cancer.” It appears that his battle with prostate cancer morphed into a fight against another. After successfully fighting for his political life, he lost the fight for his personal life.

Anyone who has ever faced this physical challenge of cancer understands the incredible courage Jack had just to get up and out every day, lead a political party that had never known power, meet the press and handle the pressures of the ever-changing political landscape, and keep smiling all the way through. He handled that admirably.

I may not have agreed with some of his political beliefs or moral values, but I certainly was attracted to his heart for a better Canada. He loved this nation and its people. He was Canadian, through and through, as seen in one of his last statements: “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…”

Political aspirations came naturally. His great-grand-uncle was William Steeves, a Father of Confederation. His grandfather, Gilbert Layton, was a Cabinet Minister in Quebec. His father, Robert Layton, was a Conservative cabinet minister under PM Mulroney. His wife, Olivia Chow, is an NDP MP from Trinity-Spadina in the Toronto area.

Everyone who heard him speak was impressed by the manner in which he communicated his heart and convictions. We got to know the man more than we may have wanted to get to know the party. He loomed as a political figure larger than his party, and members of the NDP are going to miss the clarity of his leadership vision.

In his book Speaking Louder he made it clear that he was committed to political activism. Each and every voice was important. They all needed to be heard, whether he agreed with them or not. He is quoted as saying: “Politics matters. Ideas matter. Democracy matters, because all of us need to be able to make a difference.”

When Canada faced growing social problems, Layton had to speak louder. And, Canada listened. His passion to see Canada lead the nations regarding its policies on environment, AIDS, poverty, violence against women, and homelessness is now a matter of public record. His heart to see reconciliation with the First Nation’s community is now part of our nation’s history. Jack Layton will be considered one of Canada’s great champions.

The last days of his journey were spent loving those around him and making preparations for his passing with his pastor. As a pastor, I have officiated at many funerals, and I am so aware of the power of last moments. Life gets very real when facing the reality of our mortality, and the essence of our core beliefs become increasingly clear.

Before our birth, we had no possibility of preparing for this life, but we cannot say that about our preparations for the afterlife. History has its records. The Internet will bear witness. People have their memories. There is a naked moment none of us can personally escape. We will all have to account for our politics, our ideas, our influence, and what kind of difference we actually made in the lives of others. Death never takes the wise man by surprise (Jean de La Fontaine).

Jack’s life has now been transferred from time into eternity. May he rest in peace.


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About the Author

Dr. David Kalamen is founder and lead pastor of Kelowna Christian Center (KCC). Married to Carleen for 35 years, they and their family, all living and working in Kelowna, have together been ministering to the people of this region for over 25 years. David cares deeply about the citizens of Kelowna and the state of the city, causing him to develop the Houses of Mercy program to help build compassionate community.

His column "Oh! Canada!" reflects his love for the Canadian people and this nation, and brings a refreshing perspective to local and national issues of common concern.

David has spoken at national and international conferences that have dealt with a wide range of leadership issues touching Christianity, politics, social justice, mercy missions and business. That call has taken him to over 20 nations. He has served on the General Council of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and is presently a faculty member of the Wagner Leadership Institute. David has authored a book, Life Purpose that has sold broadly throughout Canada.

If you want to contact Pastor Kalamen about this week's column please e-mail [email protected], call (250) 762-9559, or write to KCC at 905 Badke Road, Kelowna, V1X 5Z5.

Useful websites are:
Kelowna Christian Center: www.kcc.net
Heritage Christian School: www.heritagechristian.ca
Heritage Christian Online: www.onlineschool.ca
Global Ministry Training Center: www.gmtc.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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