TORONTO, Aug. 22 (UPI) — The leader of Canada’s socialist New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, died Monday of cancer at his Toronto home, his family said. He was 61.
“We deeply regret to inform you that the Honorable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 a.m. today,” a statement from his wife, Olivia Chow, and his children, Sarah and Michael said.
Layton died just months after leading his party to its unprecedented role as Official Opposition in the House of Commons following the May 2 election.
It was known he had undergone treatment for prostate cancer last year, but on July 25, a pale, drawn and thin-voiced Layton announced the cancer had metastasized and he was temporarily stepping away from the party’s leadership while he underwent treatment.
“I am hopeful and optimistic about the personal battle that lies before me in the weeks to come,” he said at the time, adding he intended to be back in Ottawa in September for the resumption of Parliament.
The conservative National Post newspaper said Layton will be remembered “fondly by his supporters, respectfully by his opponents … for his effective, down-to-earth brand of progressive politics.”
Layton was born in Montreal on July 18, 1950, to a political family whose history dates back to Canada’s founding in 1867.
He began his political career as a city councilor in Toronto. His wife, Olivia Chow, is also an NDP Member of Parliament.