When I was growing up in rural Ontario, my parents (and everyone else in the area, in fact) were cynical about politics. They always said that politicians were a bunch of kindergarten kids fighting about who got what and that they never helped much of anything. Being born and raised in this tradition, I began to believe it myself. I thought that it didn't matter who was running the country, because they were in it for their own benefit and not for the benefit of their people.
About half-way through high school, I began to realize how much the federal government affected the everyday lives of Canadians. Issues like health care, educational funding, northern sovereignty, and economic growth became important to me. With my growing concern came growing frustration; why were the people in charge not representing the wishes of the average Canadian on these issues? Politicians' words in the media were sickeningly noncommittal. I shared the apathy of many young voters. Why vote for any of these robots who dispassionately promised a vaguely cheaper and vaguely better future.
Then, in 2008, came my political reinvention. Barack Obama's campaign and victory in the United States taught me that a single dedicated person is a great force for good. I believe that Mr. Obama truly loves his country and truly cares about giving each citizen the best future possible.
I began to look for someone similar in Canada: someone who not only had a platform worth supporting, but who was also human. The humanity of politicians is a widely contested issue. For the purposes of most people, they may as well be androids with the ability to randomly assign laws to places in which they have no involvement.
'Til there was you.
There was something captivating about you, something that set you apart from the other kids in parliament. There was, behind all the ghostwriting and soundbites and political branding, a human being. I cannot believe I was misled in this. You believed in what you said. You were a breath of delicious spring air in the stagnant swamp of Canada's political elite.
Believing in the things you represent is what sets you apart from the robots. Instead of bending your policies to get the most votes, I feel like you simply represent what you think is the best for the country. I find this humanity comforting and overwhelmingly inspiring.
I can hardly bring myself to think of you in the past tense. Did you know what you meant to this country? You were the one who taught many young Canadians that there is a reason to be involved with their government. You stood for honesty and passion in your political life and work. What more can we ask of one human than to live with honesty and passion? Who can do better than to work tirelessly to bring about what they know is the best thing for themselves, their families, their countrymen, and the world.
I believe that you could not have done better in your work for this country. To lose you is to lose a lover of this nation, a brother in arms against apathy and chaos, and to lose a human who was of inestimable value to his family and personal friends.
Mr. Layton, I thank you for what you have taught me about what good can come of one human life. I thank you for your work, for your passion, for your honesty, and for your love of this beautiful country. You have raised up a generation who will carry on the fight for humanity. Because you have done your duty so well, and because you have been so faithful to yourself and to Canada, may you now rest in peace.
With the greatest respect and sadness;