The recently marked third anniversary since Jack Layton’s death brought again the memories of a mediocre politician, who operated like an engine with a broken belt – with a lot of puffing and noise, but very little to show off as a result. (Sweeping the votes of Quebeckers pissed off at the Liberals and the Bloc was hardly an accomplishment.)
Since I often get hate mail over my opinion about Jack and his policies, in this article I will let somebody else speak; somebody who loves him. As an extra bonus, I hope this piece would revitalize the faltering mayoral campaign of a certain one, who will be on the ballots this coming October.
Lately I came across an obituary published in the online edition of Fab Magazine. It includes a short introduction, but the rest is a reprint of their 2004 publication, which sheds plenty of new light on Jack’s odd life.
The piece opens with a fabulous picture:
The latex Mountie mocks the once great Canadian institution and the photo-shoot shows that we are not in Kansas anymore, not even in Toronto, but on Church Street, a different universe. So we know what to expect from the article.
Thick drops of nostalgia drip from the description of the old times of the homosexual movement:
Back when Buddies in Bad Times was a focal point for playful, sexual licentiousness, Layton volunteered his time as an auctioneer for the (now discontinued) annual XXX fundraisers. A former theatre employee recalls Layton gleefully pulling in the big bucks for a nickel-plated brass butt plug. Layton’s wife, Toronto city councillor Olivia Chow, remembers helping by modelling a leather collar. Yet Jack Layton is equally at home at the ecumenical Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (MCCT), where he says he attends Sunday services more often than at his home base of Bloor Street United. Layton was even invited to witness the banns in the infamous MCCT double wedding of 2001 that helped launch the successful legal challenge to the constitutionality of denying same-sex marriage.
Finally something positive for a change – Jack actually made money by selling something (instead of the customary throwing of tax money away). Maybe the big bucks he got for the butt plug would qualify him for inclusion in the Guinness Book as the best butt plug salesman (I can contact them, if the Fab editors reveal the amount). As of the collar Olivia designed, I can assure you, it was not a Reverend’s collar, but a BDSM device that abounds at the yearly freak show named “Pride Parade.”
The author doesn’t tell us if Jack shared the excitement from his auction success with the parishioners of the two churches. I am familiar with both of them – they have never refused to host even the weirdest Marxists, anti-Semites or atheists. Jack and Olivia fit in perfectly with those “churches,” because the unorthodox policies and strange views of the couple have earned them fame as the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald of the Canadian socialism.
The “playful, sexual licentiousness” of Buddies in Bad Times, which the author laments, is still alive and kicking. Earlier this year, that “theatre” staged a play about the joys of the homosexual bathroom sex. The play was the end result of a project developed by a York University professor. She received a federal grant of $102,117 to study queer bathroom sex and discrimination in excretion. I am glad to see that what Jack started long time ago still lives at Buddies in Bad Times.
We are then introduced to the wonderful personality of our Jack:
I go to shake his hand, but he’s expecting a hug. I give him one, and add a quick Québécois buss on the cheek. I remember him as a real charmer, a metrosexual before the term existed, who flirts in a way so filled with affection for people and life itself that I might have flirted back. (When I ask gay NDP colleague Svend Robinson if Layton has ever made eyes at him, Robinson replies: “If he had, I wouldn’t tell you.”)
The author (a self-confessed lesbian) must be a scruffy butch, because even I, an extremely fashion-challenged guy, can tell that Jack Layton was not a metrosexual. At best, he used to dress like an accountant from a bankrupt sawmill. I am much more inclined to believe the romantic bit – the spark of passion between Jack and Svend could’ve turned into something tangible in the future (not that there is anything wrong with it).
Then Ms. Brown delves deeper into Jack’s contributions:
The gay community has been burnt before. Only 10 years ago, an NDP provincial government at Queen’s Park introduced a bill on same-sex relationship recognition, which collapsed when leader Bob Rae allowed a free vote and his own MPPs helped kill it. Yorkview New Democrat MPP George Mammoliti (currently a Toronto city councillor) went down in history for his comments during the debate: “I can tell you that when we talk about electric torture, whipping, watersports and scat, fisting, cleaning your toys, what does that say to the community? And if that goes on, do you believe that it’s fundamentally acceptable to include the adoption of children? I believe that children pick up from their parents.”
Mammoliti is a big mouth that lacks the restrains of the political correctness (even now as a city Councillor) when discussing things nobody would touch. Does the author question his description of the homosexual sex practices? A review of Xtra and other publications would prove him correct.
Another trait that raises Jack’s standing in the homosexual community is his dictatorial approach. He was more than willing to force their agenda on the NDP MPs – no questions allowed:
Layton says now that he’s in charge of the federal party, there’s no debate on some issues. Those MPs who couldn’t stomach gay marriage were told to stay away from last year’s Alliance-sponsored roll call – and a handful did. Layton says he delivered: “It wasn’t a matter of conscience whether people have human rights… No one voted contrary [to the party’s position].”
Good to see from whom Justin Trudeau learned his tricks of party control. He has more to learn, like the clever way Jack legalized the homosexual bathhouses:
Layton spoke out against the police bathhouse raids of 1981. And at a time when city bureaucrats refused to give out business permits to anything that smacked of gay, Layton mischievously argued that bathhouses were places where men bathed – and got the licences issued.
Together with Svend Robinson, Jack had some grandiose plans for corrupting the Canadian society by “freeing” Canada of any decency and morality:
The gay MP is quick to say that bawdy house laws should be repealed, and Canada Customs shouldn’t be in the business of censoring imports (Vancouver’s Little Sister’s bookstore is suing the federal agency again, this time because its agents are stopping gay comics at the border). But Robinson won’t pronounce immediately on whether the concept of “obscenity” – a long-time gay bugaboo – should be deleted outright from Canada’s criminal law. “This is an issue that has not been at all raised.”
Layton gave his two out MPs solid jobs: Robinson critiques health and international human rights; Vancouver lesbian Libby Davies has the high-profile job of house leader.
The “solid jobs” went to two questionable individuals. If Layton ran a private business with this type of human resources expertise, he would’ve ground it into dust pretty quickly. Soon after that, Svend became Canada’s most famous shoplifter by stealing a ring for his boyfriend. Some skillful crying and whining got him off the hook. Libby became popular with her own brand of publicly displayed ignorance – she called Israel to shrink to its 1948 borders; introduced a petition to investigate the 9/11 attacks as a government inside job, and even tried to tell Canadians what they can eat (though she is slightly larger than a blue whale).
Personal abilities didn’t matter much to Jack, as long as his appointees belonged to the right “community.” That didn’t escape the attention of Ms. Brown, who mentioned how dedicated he was to the “community values” (the “family values” are so 19th century!):
Layton leans forward and says he believes in “community values” (as opposed to the “family” version of the religious right): Canada is a collection of communities, each valuing the other.
And finally, Jack brags about his deep dedication to the homosexual community:
As leader of the NDP, he needs the mainstream, certainly, but will he cater to the lowest common denominator to get votes? In-jokes and much-needed initiatives for local minority groups may not translate into electoral success. I ask my final question – “When was the last time you were in a gay bathhouse?” – moments after a PR guy enters the room to get Layton to his next meeting. The PR minder’s eyes bug out, and he stutters desperately as he tries to interrupt. But a cool Layton grins and brags about the “Back Jack” tea towels he had made up for a political campaign 11 years ago. They were very popular at the Spa on Maitland.
The name of those tea towels gives a totally different meaning to the slogan written on his memorial in Toronto: “Jack’s Got Your Back!” If you sit on his tandem bike, you may consider wearing thicker pants. If you are happy of being constantly screwed by politicians like Jack, it doesn’t matter what you are wearing.
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