Layton’s vision of Toronto at risk of being dismantled
A Town Crier Community Column
News of Jack Layton’s continued battle with cancer has been met in our community and across Canada with a large and genuine outpouring of concern and hope for his quick and complete recovery.
Layton will take a temporary leave of absence from his role as leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada to win his battle against this new cancer after leading the party to 103 seats in Parliament and Official Opposition status this past spring.
As Layton said, “I am going to fight this cancer now, so I can be back to fight for families when Parliament resumes”.
This statement is so typically Jack. It speaks of the man I have known for more than 20 years as elected representatives and colleagues in the East Toronto communities of Toronto-Danforth, Riverdale and Beaches-East York. No challenge is too great for him. Failure is not an option.
As many of you know, Layton leads life at a hectic pace — one few could match. Distinctive by his sheer energy, drive, enthusiasm, and intellect, he has represented east end Toronto for almost 20 years as a metro councillor, city councillor and MP for Toronto-Danforth. His activist leadership on a full range of issues including, public transit, health, housing, the environment, social justice, among others, has helped shape our dynamic city, local communities and our country.
Locally, Layton was on the forefront to rally citizens to fight for the renewal of the eastern waterfront, which gave rise to the rejuvenation of long-abandoned tracts of land. He pursued the idea to take down the eastern leg of the Gardiner Expressway to create a modern gateway to the eastern beach communities, against considerable scepticism and opposition. The stopping of incineration at several local waterfront industries including the city’s Commissioner Street garbage burning facility and the Ashbridges Bay sewage incinerator made vast environmental improvements for us all.
The list of actions for positive change is exhaustive. Perhaps his most important quality is his sheer delight and enthusiasm working with citizens to encourage their ideas and active participation in community matters.
Most importantly, Layton has stood for a balanced and a socially just approach to community building and organization. He recognizes, like many of us do, that a community or a country can only be successful, prosperous and civil if all its participants are treated fairly, have rights and are provided with quality services. He continues to fight for families and individuals because these things continue to be threatened or undermined.
Unfortunately, never has this been as true as it is now in our current political context — nationally, locally and perhaps later this year, provincially.
The recent reports emanating from city hall indicate that important services are in jeopardy. This administration is raising the spectre of closing libraries and daycare centres, shutting down the Riverdale Farm, selling off assets like the Toronto Zoo, reducing service levels and increasing fees to city programs. The quality of life and community character we have succeeded in creating here is being threatened.
If there is one thing about Layton, he never gives up. He approaches all things very openly, employing imagination and creativity.
He is genuine; and Canadians recognize that he means what he says and that he cares deeply for our communities, our country and its people.
So, I would ask you, while we all pray for and cheer on Jack’s fight against cancer that we also pay tribute to his vision by joining together to resist the dismantling of that vision.
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