Remembering the real Jack Layton
Today is the first anniversary of Jack Layton’s death and the NDP and left-wing media are milking it to promote his example of tirelessly working to advance the socialist agenda. Of course, that’s not how they put it, but that’s the point. The average person didn’t understand that “Jack” wasn’t all about smiles, but rather socialism. To correct the sycophancy of the media coverage, here’s an edited version of what I wrote last year after Jack Layton passed away:
Jack Layton would have loved the media orgy going on in the wake of his death. He was a media whore. When journalists go on TV and call him Jack, that’s a closeness born of hours chatting it up at every given opportunity, whether in the corridors of City Hall and foyer at Parliament or over drinks after work or at social functions where the paths of journalists and a certain type of politician cross. You cannot imagine a reporter talking about Stephen and probably not even about Bob, but to anyone with a camera or microphone, Jack was Jack.
The slobbering over Layton by the media was unseemly but not unexpected. The media loves him, as I noted above, because he has taken out the time to spend with them. But they also love his causes: fadish big government, social liberalism, environmentalism, and the host of left-liberal issues that animate the NDP and the left-wing of the Liberal Party. Long before gay rights were popular, Jack Layton was trying to convince the city of Toronto to offer full spousal benefits for gay employees. That was in 1986. And, he said, if the city wasn’t going to do it, it should stop offering any spousal benefits. His proposal didn’t succeed at first, but he tried again and again and eventually the city was at the vanguard of gay rights.
Campaign Life Coalition has video from the tumultuous days of pro-life rescues in front of the Morgentaler Clinic in Toronto in the 1980s. The footage shows Layton, then a city of Toronto alderman, directing police to make arrests (and the police doing so). At the time, freestanding abortion facilities like Morgentaler’s were in contravention of criminal law. A city politician should not be ordering police to make politically motivated arrests and a city politician definitely should not be working with police to defend an outfit like Morgentaler’s that was clearly violating the law. The fact that the Supreme Court would later throw out the Criminal Code provisions on abortions does not exonerate Layton’s interference in a police matter.
It seems mandatory that the obituaries acknowledge Layton’s passion and persistence and indeed he had these traits in spades. But it must be noted to what use he put these qualities, namely policies that advanced a left-wing agenda: diminished freedom, the promotion of social envy through progressive taxation and he redistribution of wealth, radical environmentalism that disguises opposition to private enterprise as concern for the planet, support for abortion and other assaults on traditional values. Based on his actions and policies, he hated other people enjoying freedom. As city councilor, there was never a cause he didn’t back that didn’t diminish the liberty of Torontians, from recycling programs to indoor smoking bans. All that seems perfectly sensible today because Layton and his ilk won the argument but it is folly for us to forget that we, mere citizens, homeowners, and entrepreneurs, are less free today because of his actions at City Hall. If the NDP won power in May , all Canadians would be poorer and have less freedom. The popular word for Layton’s policy preferences is “progressive” but that’s just socialism in a nice dress and lipstick — kinda like Jack’s Asian masseuse.
Missing from the obits are any tidbits of criticism. The fact that he and his wife were making city councilor salaries and living in subsidized municipal housing while there were tens of thousands of poor people on waiting lists. The whole Asian massage parlour incident has been buried, even though reporters in Toronto suspect that the events reported by by Sun News in May (“soiled” towel and all) is just the tip of the iceberg of his sexual follies.
Christie Blatchord mentioned it, but few others have: Layton was obsessed with politics. Even good stories about him — how he met his wife and they spent their first Christmas making political signs — focus on his obsession with politics. It is so damn unseemly. Those who continually seek political office, which is all he did in his adult life, are power-hungry. But you can’t say that because he has the “common good” in mind. It is funny how socialist policies are always equated with the common good.
I guess I have to offer the usual lines about Layton’s death being a tragedy. Of course it is. As a faithful Catholic I pray for the dead and that their families find some consolation. But just because Layton’s death a personal tragedy for those close to him does not mean we need to paint him as a saint without flaws and we shouldn’t flinch from the truth about his political agenda. I guess I should say something nice about Layton so I’ll acknowledge this: he did grow up in his time in federal politics, but as a 61-year-old, he certainly should have. But despite his emergence as a credible left-wing leader, we cannot deny his past.
Canadian politics was more lively because of Layton, but his policies were atrocious. Where he successfully implemented them, they would do harm. Where he pushed for them, he has changed the political landscape for the worst. Our country is worse off because of politicians like Jack Layton and those traits that are so admirable were put to work for ends that shouldn’t be celebrated.