Thursday, August 22, 2013
Jack Layton lauded as Toronto statue unveiled
TORONTO - Jack Layton’s presence is now a fixture on Toronto’s waterfront.
The Layton statue was unveiled Thursday with great fanfare and lots of tributes to the former federal NDP leader.
Layton — who also served as a Toronto city councillor — died two years ago after a battle with cancer. His death came just months after he led the federal NDP to its largest victory in a general election and onto the official opposition benches.
The bronze statue, entitled “Jack’s got your back. Stronger Together: The Layton Memorial,” will greet visitors to Toronto’s waterfront just outside the newly renamed Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. The sculpture features Layton on the back seat of a tandem bike and an empty front seat that visitors can climb on for photos.
Olivia Chow, Layton’s widow, thanked everyone for the memorial. She talked about how they bought a tandem bike as a wedding present to each other, although Layton was usually the one riding in the front.
“In this great city, in this great country, we will carry on stronger together, working for a better future and always with a smile in our hearts,” Chow said. “Thank you, Jack.”
Mayor Rob Ford — who, as a rookie councillor, sat beside Layton — was on hand for the ceremony and recalled how Layton taught him an important lesson.
“He said, ‘Rob, never takes things personal, it’s politics,’” Ford recalled. “I’m still trying to learn that.
“This dedication is Toronto’s way of saying thank you. Thank you to Jack Layton for a life lived.”
Layton’s son, Councillor Mike Layton, said the statue was in the right place being so close to the Toronto Islands, “a spot that (his dad) loved.”
The Ontario Federation of Labour helped organize the fundraising for the statue.
OFL president Sid Ryan lauded Layton for “believing in raising people out of poverty.”
Ryan read out a long list of unions that helped donate to build the memorial to Layton.
“We’re delighted on behalf of the OFL ... to give this beautiful sculpture to the citizens of Canada and the citizens of Toronto,” he said.
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