It's been just over two years since the death of Jack Layton, the politician who led his party to the promised land of the Official Opposition but who couldn't go there himself. This past week a memorial statue of him was unveiled outside the ferry terminal to the Toronto Islands, depicting him on the rear seat of a tandem bicycle. There's a lot of symbolism tied up in this one, and really, there aren't very many other Canadian politicians actually worthy of being memorialized in such a way.
Thinking about it, though--I have to wonder if whether, at least in terms of image, it was for the best that Layton went as he did. Having gone out at the top of his game, leading the New Democratic Party to greater success than it had ever achieved before, becoming a symbol in and of himself: had he lived, perhaps to become Prime Minister in 2015, he couldn't have lived up to himself. No "transformative" politician can live up to their hype; witness the idea of Barack Obama against Barack Obama in practice.
The memorial is called "Jack's Got Your Back," and that can be true now. Jack Layton, as an idea, as a symbol, can't be battered by politics--he can't disappoint the people who follow him.
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