What a difference a year makes

A year ago, I was part of a group listening to the kind of speech that you get to hear at office Christmas parties across Canada.  It focused on a job well done – with respect to our efforts in the past year, the challenges that were sure to come in the New Year, and hope that our work would bear fruit.  I am sure you have heard some version of this kind of address numerous times.  The content isn’t too surprising and much depends on the ability of the speaker to make it worth listening to without being too long.  The one I heard was inspirational, in large part because it was delivered by Jack Layton.

Jack’s speech was given against the back-drop of constant election speculation, topsy-turvy polls (that had not been overly kind to us New Democrats) and his recovery from prostate cancer, which at that point seemed quite good.   He used the occasion to challenge us to acknowledge our blessings and to be thankful and optimistic.  That, in so many ways, was Jack’s gift to us, his sincerity was infectious.

We all have a pretty good recollection of how the year played out.  The election came, the polls changed again and New Democrats had the break-through we had been expecting for many years.  On May 2nd, Jack was at the top of his game – as the saying goes - and the sky seemed the limit going forward.   Sadly, Jack’ cancer returned and he lost his final battle in the middle of a beautiful Canadian summer.  Since then we have risen to his challenge.

New Democrats have followed the path Jack set for renewal in the party’s leadership while maintaining focus in the House of Commons on the issues that Canadians elected us on.  The needs of Canadians and their families are first in our minds and take precedence over the whims of Bay St which have, for too long, been the immediate priority of Canadian governments.

2012 will bring a new leader to our caucus and new challenges that I know we are well prepared to tackle.  As we continue to do right by those who elected us, Jack’s final words to Canadians guide us:

“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.”

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year.  Happy Holidays

Carol Hughes