Ottawa

Makeshift Ottawa memorial grows for Layton

A colourful makeshift memorial for Jack Layton continued to grow Tuesday around the Centennial Flame in Ottawa.

A colourful makeshift memorial for Jack Layton continued to grow Tuesday around the Centennial Flame in Ottawa.

People are still strolling by Parliament Hill and leaving mementos, including dozens and dozens of flowers and cards.

The flag on the Peace Tower also continues to fly at half-mast in Layton's honour.

On Monday, large crowds congregated in Ottawa for noon and 8 p.m. vigils in honour of the NDP leader, who died at his Toronto home early Monday morning.

"He was such an inspiration to me and all Canadians, I think, no matter what party you support I feel like all Canadians connected with him," said Holly Stanczak, who wanted to remember Layton with others who shared her same feeling.

Monday gatherings in both Toronto and Ottawa were organized through Twitter.

Elle Cooke, who runs the Twitter account "Ellebetz," said she was the first to tweet about organizing a memorial in the capital, encouraging people to bring candles and flags.

"We're just gathering to share a common grief," said Cooke, "it's really good to see this unity, I think Jack would've liked it, for sure."

A bouquet of bright orange daisies and a cans of Orange Crush also stood out amidst the flowers and cards.

A memorial for Jack Layton continued to grow Tuesday around the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill. (CBC)

During the 2011 federal election, Orange Crush became a symbol representing the NDP’s sudden rise in popularity. Much of that has been accredited to the leadership of Jack Layton.

"I think he's made the federal NDP into a party that is very representative of the Canadian identity," said Allen Martin.

"He was a big part of the reason why I chose to come to Ottawa, to work and go to school," said Amy Kishek, who has worked with the NDP since 2004, "he was a big part of my influence in terms of my views on politics in Canada."

"Love is better than anger"

Layton wrote a letter to Canadians over the weekend with the help of his family and some NDP colleagues. His letter concluded with a simple message.

"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," it said.

Layton had strong feelings towards many social issues, including gay rights.

Monday was supposed to be the flag raising for Ottawa's Capital Pride, but the festival chose to leave it at half-mast.

"The Capital Pride Committee would like to extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Layton’s family, friends and loved ones," said Capital Pride chair Doug Saunders-Riggins in a statement.

"We are saddened by this incredible loss – Mr. Layton has been an outstanding spokesperson for GLBT rights in Canada and we are saddened to hear about the news of his passing."

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, who is in London, Ont. for a meeting of Ontario municipalities, released his own statement recounting Layton's work as a Toronto city councillor and as a federal politician.

"Canadians have lost a true representative of the voice of real people and my heart goes out to all who are close to Jack and Olivia in this time of mourning," he wrote, concluding the message.

Layton will have a state funeral in Toronto Saturday. There will also be a public lying-in-state from 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to 2 p.m. Thursday at the House of Commons foyer. A book of condolences will also be available.

There will be an opportunity for MPs and other dignitaries to visit starting at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday.

 

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