Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Layton's Last Words Were First Laurier's

"Faith is better than doubt and love is better than hate." - Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 1918

"Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear." - Jack Layton, 2011

A year after Jack Layton's untimely passing, the presence of the former NDP Leader is still felt across Canada, ironically however it is in his last words where his presence may be in doubt.

In a letter to Canadians written before he died Jack Layton wrote compellingly about the need for political change, for people to care enough to act. His last words in the document have been etched in our collective memory; they have been quoted, tweeted, and posted on facebook, the problem is they are more than similar to the words and message of a former Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Jack Layton's Letter:
"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."
Sir Wilfrid Laurier's statement:
"Let me tell you that for the solution of these problems you have a safe guide, an unfailing light if you remember that faith is better than doubt and love is better than hate. Banish hate and doubt from your life. Let your souls be ever open to the promptings of faith and the gentle influence of brotherly love. Be adamant against the haughty, be gentle and kind to the weak. Let your aim and purpose, in good report or ill, in victory or defeat, be so to live, so to strive, so to serve as to do your part to raise even higher the standard of life and living..."
Not only do both great men use almost exchangable words and identical phrasing in statements, the purpose behind their messages for greater political engagement is also shared.

The similarities between Jack Layton's words and those of Laurier's, though clear, do not lessen the honour of the former NDP Leader. After all, it was not his last words that made him so popular and inspirational.

That just happens to be a good thing, because as it turns out, they weren't his words.

Update: Ralph Goodale pointed this out 11 months ago.

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