When I arrived in Canada in 2004, I was blown away by the mere existence of Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe. Here were two politicians who spoke the truth, had roots in labor and consistently and unambiguously promoted left values. Layton was of course frequently red-baited by both the liberals and press (a fact conveniently forgotten in the last week), but he never took the bait.* I recall an interview last spring where a reporter asked Layton if he thought his ties to labor would hurt him on some “business” issue. He said “no, next question.”
Even following the conservatives and liberals in 2004 it was instantly clear how different Canadian politics were from those of the US. But for this immigrant, Layton — and moreso than Duceppe because he proved to be able to reach people from different parts of Canada — was the real beacon of what is and could be different here.
* there must be a word for sovereigntist-baiting, which is what Nycole Turmel is going through right now