Thoughts about a great Canadian leader

All of us here at Students for a Free Tibet are deeply saddened to hear about the loss of Jack Layton, leader of the NDP.

There’s nothing else that I can say that hasn’t already been said by Canadians all over after hearing about the devastating loss of this great Canadian leader.

When I first heard about Mr. Layton’s sad passing early yesterday morning, the first thing I thought about was when I met him two years ago during Tibet Lobby Day in Ottawa. He, along with MP Paul Dewar, met with Tibetan representatives including myself, then a student at the University of Ottawa, as well as former National Director of SFT Canada Tsering Lama.

NDP Leader Jack Layton met with Tibetan representatives during Tibet Lobby Day 2009.

I was surprised and appreciative of how down-to-earth and ‘chill’ this political party leader was. He was extremely supportive of our Stop Mining Tibet campaign, even saying that if he had known more about mining and the extractive industry when he and Olivia “got hitched”, he wouldn’t have bought their wedding bands. And unlike most of the other politicians we met with that day, he was so enthusiastic and went into complete brainstorm mode with ideas flying out of him about how we could move forward with our Stop Mining Tibet campaign – I had trouble keeping up with writing all his ideas down on my notepad. He spent a good amount of time speaking with us, even going over our allotted meeting time with him. Although I’ve never fully sided with a certain political party, he certainly left an impression with me that day.

Through lobby days and having worked at Parliament Hill for almost two years, I can say that Mr. Layton was not like other politicians. He lived, and I believe, died for Canada – even through his illness, he was out and about working for the people.

His last words in his last letter to Canada echo exactly what pushes me to work for Tibet and the Tibetan people everyday: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

I hope that Canadians will take Mr. Layton’s last words and run with them to help change the world as he had.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jack Layton and his family. Regardless of what politics you follow, you couldn’t not respect and admire his spirit, tenacity, and integrity. Rest in peace.

Tenzin Lobsang, SFT Canada

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