Quebecers mourn the loss of 'le bon Jack'
In the province where voters helped his party make historic gains in the last federal election, people are saying goodbye to Jack Layton.
The leader of the NDP died Monday after a battle with cancer. He was 61.
"It's very heartbreaking," said Francis Blanchard, who voted for Layton's party in the last election. "There are not too many people who are 100 per cent, who are upfront and upright in politics, and I think this is one of those people."
The NDP won its first seat in Quebec in 2007 and in the last election expanded its base to an unprecedented 59 seats.
Many voters, such as Carol Hughes, said Layton made an impact on her and other Quebecers.
"He made me a convert. I was a Liberal, but with Jack, the last campaign, however he came across affected me," she said. "Canada's lost a wonderful person."
Vincent Marissal, a columnist with the French daily newspaper La Presse, said many of the new NDP MPs were elected on Layton's name.
"What you see is what you get with Jack Layton," said Marissal. "He was the most sincere, he played no games."
One newly-elected MP, Guy Caron of Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques, said he and his NDP colleagues feel a great loss.
"Like myself, many of them have joined the NDP or have even started to get involved in politics after being inspired [by] Jack Layton's view of politics, view of life, view of what the country should be like," said Caron.
Even Layton's political adversaries remember him fondly.
Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe who, for years, fought Layton and the NDP for votes, said he has positive memories of working with him.
"We used to go to the gymnasium every day. So we were discussing politics, obviously, but also other things like family," he said. "I think it's very sad. He was only 61 years old, very young to quit. I think he was a very generous man."
A candlelight vigil will be held in Montreal Monday evening.