It has been said that politics is the “art of the possible” — a world where one can only accomplish so much because of the great inertia of our political system.
Jack Layton believed otherwise.
I’ve been involved with the NDP since I was 17. I came into politics with the wide-eyed idealism of a teenager. However, my early days of being a New Democrat weren’t easy ones. We were mired at single digits in the polls and were barely keeping our heads above official-party status in Canada’s Parliament.
A culture of disillusionment and defeat seemed to prevail.
I remember being at the NDP convention in which Jack became leader. He expressed a grandiose vision for the party that seemed free of the taint of corrosive cynicism and disillusionment that was pervasive in NDP circles. I wasn’t entirely certain that his optimism was genuine but it became crystal clear over time that it was.
Jack was a leader in every sense of the word. He was a man willing to take on unpopular and seemingly overambitious causes because he believed in them. He was not afraid to stick out his neck and put his name behind something or someone that he passionately believed in.
Jack sought common ground with anyone regardless of political stripe because he knew that more is achieved by working together than by division. To borrow a phrase from football, Jack continually “moved the sticks” by making incremental steps towards his vision because he knew once even the smallest progress was made that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse course.
Jack inspires me every day to continue fighting for what some may call an impossible dream - the dream of building a fairer, more compassionate Alberta.
He reminds me that passionate and courageous stands are important, but change really happens when people “roll up their sleeves” and seek compromise from potential allies from across the spectrum.
Marc Power, 29, ran as an NDP MLA candidate for Calgary Currie in 2008. He will be running again in Calgary Klein.