Longtime NDPer Charlie Wyse has described Jack Layton’s death as a “loss for Canada.”
Layton passed away at the age of 61 at his Toronto home Monday morning.
Layton died a few weeks after he announced he was fighting a new form of cancer and was taking time off for treatment (Layton had previously been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009).
In the last federal election Layton took the party from third-place status in the House of Commons to Official Opposition.
“It’s unfortunate and I extend personal best wishes to his wife Olivia Chow and to his family. Our thoughts are with them and we wish them the best,” Wyse said.
Wyse, who is both a member of the federal and provincial NDP and the confirmed NDP candidate for the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding, had met Layton on a number of occasions.
He described their relationship as one that exists between a leader and party members.
Wyse helped to run the election campaign for the federal NDP candidate in the Cariboo-Prince George riding in May and has been involved in other federal NDP campaigns in the area.
The last time Wyse saw Layton was at an NDP convention in Vancouver following the federal election.
“I was as shocked as Canadians were when I saw Jack on TV a month later when he announced he would be taking time off to deal with this illness that he had,” Wyse said.
“To see the rapid deterioration in his health in that approximate one-month period of time.”
Wyse was hesitant to talk about the future, preferring to reflect on Layton’s life and contributions to Canadians.
“The time right now is to be spent on celebrating Jack’s life — the things he’s done for Canadians in his public capacity,” he said.
“The NDP is a collection of strong individuals and I’m sure at an appropriate time a leader will be chosen and those issues will be dealt with at that time.”