It was a cold night in April as I strolled the streets of Ottawa. It was after 11pm and I was still exploring the city. Unable to tear myself away from Ottawa’s sights and sounds for the warmth of my hotel room, I turned a corner and ran into Jack Layton.
He was slowly unlocking his bike from a street post a few blocks down from the Hill. I was photo-blogging the trip and although Jack had never received my personal vote I thought the opportunity was too good to pass up. I asked for a photo of him and his bike as we began to talk.
Shortly after the photo was taken I walked with Jack a few blocks down, further away from the Hill. We talked politics and specifically about the speaker of the house.
“He’s a great choice but that’s one less seat for us.” Jack laughed as I suggested Bill Blakie as a candidate for the next speaker of the house. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had just started his minority government at the time.
We talked for what seemed like hours, but in reality it was only minutes. Jack was open to conversation on issues from all sides of the spectrum, and kind with his conversation.
I didn’t fully realize it at the time but Jack taught me something that night through his actions. While so much of the political divide is drawn with partisan lines that run deep, the truly thoughtful politician will listen, think and speak with a respect that is deserving of each other as individual human beings. While Jack and I would never agree on all issues and their solutions, I cannot agree more with his ability to be a leader who served respect as he would like it in return.
That night we shook hands and thanked each other for the conversation. Jack and I turned and walked separate directions and it wasn’t until today after learning of his passing that I realized the directions we walked in weren’t all that different after all.
Rest in peace Jack.