Housing Advocate Jack Layton Dies at 61

Jack Layton, longtime advocate for a national housing policy in Canada has succumbed to cancer just months after leading his New Democratic Party from third party status to official opposition.
August 22, 2011, 11am PDT | Michael Dudley
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Onetime president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Jack Layton kept homelessness on the political agenda. As leader of the New Democratic Party, he delivered the party from perennial third-party status to official opposition in the May 2011 federal election. Just months after this victory, however, Layton has been felled by cancer at age 61. The Toronto Star reports,

"As president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in 2000, [Layton] built a nationwide campaign on affordable housing that led the federal government to commit more than $1 billion to the problem. For good measure, Layton always pointed out that while he spearheaded the campaign that got mayors of major Canadian cities to declare homelessness a national disaster, then prime minister Jean Chrétien apparently told him that after giving some money to the provinces, Ottawa had lost interest in the issue.

Layton, who wrote a book on homelessness, would repeat that anecdote throughout his leadership campaign. The establishment did not care about affordable housing and Layton got results. Ottawa was broken, as he would say during his last campaign, and he was going to fix it."

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Published on Monday, August 22, 2011 in Toronto Star
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