For those not hanging on every ripple in Canadian parliamentary politics, the official Leader of the Opposition, having dragged his party across the finish line in a second place showing, from a few dozen seats to over 100 -- an unprecedented surge, so stunning that people far and wide have mistaken it for some kind of sea change in Canadian loyalties -- died before he had a chance to savour his victory.
In reality, the 2011 election was, in fact, a very deliberate demonstration on the part of Quebeckers that they were fed to the teeth with all the other parties and were engaging in a province-wide snit. In addition, the Liberals had elected as head of their party a man as warm and engaging as the haughty, French-looking presidential candidate who-by-the-way-served-in-Vietnam John Forbes Kerry -- I speak of former Hahrvard intellectool, Michael Ignatieff, who parlayed a long and successful career as a perfessor and talking head into a short and clumsy political career back in Canada. He pushed the government into an election which all thinking persons knew he would lose. He did. His once-ruling party has nearly disappeared.
All this put the official leftist fringe into the Official Opposition chair, making lifelong political hack Jack Layton (Head of the New Democratic Party, Canada's official socialists) the Leader of the Opposition.
Quite apart from his lifelong dedication to every idiot cause on the planet, one had to hand it to Layton that he had taken his merry band of wingnuts to a startling new height in a very short time. And no one would wish on Mr. Layton what happened next: he was found to be in the grip of terminal cancer, and died within months of his political zenith.
It was not hard to muster sympathy even for such a leftist wingnut in this unhappy situation -- but sympathy was taxed when it was clear that, even in death, he was still pandering to the constituencies. There was a smarmy, cliche-ridden farewell Letter to the Nation, straight from the heart -- the heart of Jack, his equally political hack wife, and a sub-committee of advisers; there was the flooding bathos tub of teddy-bear grief and shrines; there was the Prime Minister's absurd (yet politically astute) granting of a State Funeral which morphed (unsurprisingly) into a near Wellstone Memorial.
The final act of this folk opera was the disposal of the remains. Not Gaul, but Jack, was divided into three parts, to be distributed in three meaningful, uh, ridings, as it were, strewn like rose petals at an Augustan triumph.
And of course, all was complete with the rite of Deification: the outpourings of praise so over-the-top that even some reporters (themselves the swooners-in-chief) eventually had to cry "Hold! Enough!"
But if one were to survey the Canadian major media as a visitor from the far side of Mars -- or, alternatively, from the online magazine Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. -- one could not be blamed for mistaking Jack Layton for the reincarnation of Ghandi and Marcus Aurelius. Hence the KoolAid-sodden outpourings of an innocent young Sarah Palin fan named Adam Brickley. He produced a glowing paean to a politician he'd never really seen in action, entitled Jack Layton: A socialist who earned the admiration of conservatives.
Really? Who knew?
He goes on:
...frankly I found his political ideas to be both appalling and dangerous, but he was arguably the single greatest politician of his generation — anywhere in the world... People will be studying Layton’s achievements and strategies for decades to come.
Then he addresses Jack:
I have a sneaking suspicion that your story is going to be made into a major Hollywood blockbuster someday.Puh-leeeeze! Chill out, kid!
Resting in pieces.
Layton looks warmly at notorious Canadian abortionist Henry "Dr. Death" Morgentaler, whose Order of Canada honours Layton heartily endorsed. Morgentaler, appropriately enough, showed up for the funeral.