Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

The empty chair

  • Print

Today was the day Jack Layton was supposed to return to his job as NDP leader and official opposition leader. Instead his chair in the centre of the House of Commons remains empty.

Nobody has been assigned to the seat, reserved for the head of the opposition party, directly across from the Prime Minister’s own.

Related Items

Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel sits to its left. NDP house leader Thomas Mulcair sits to its right.

It is a poignant reminder of the immensity of Layton’s death to his party and to the House as a whole.

Parliament resumed this morning with tributes to him from the party leaders and a thank you from his wife, NDP MP Olivia Chow.

Turmel, who led things off, spoke of Layton’s desire for a more civil discourse in the House of Commons and urged parliamentarians to continue that legacy.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a poignant and heartfelt speech remembering Layton as both a worthy opponent and a colleague and one of the last conversations he had with Layton before Parliament rose for the summer. Before anyone knew Layton was suffering again from cancer.

"As I have said before, I remember at one point near the end crossing to sit with Jack in the midst of it, to discuss a few things, some political, some personal. That was not really very long ago. When I look now across the floor, it is hard to believe he is not still there. However, I will always remember that conversation because, notwithstanding the personal challenges in front of Jack and regardless of the personal combat going on between us, he was still, as always, full of optimism and goodwill."

Both Liberal Leader Bob Rae and Green Party leader Elizabeth May quoted the poet Dylan Thomas in remembering Layton’s personality and legacy.

Chow ended the tributes by saying thank you for the support and outpouring of condolences from fellow MPs and Canadians. She received a standing ovation and many kudos for the strength she has shown in the weeks since her husband’s death.

There are many reasons to expect the coming session of Parliament to be extremely contentious. There are many reasons to expect the whole devotion to better behavior will evaporate when it comes time to discuss sensitive issues like the gun registry and the Canadian Wheat Board, and pressing issues like the touchy economic situation we face.

The NDP intend only to leave Layton’s chair vacant for today. But perhaps it might be a good idea to do so for longer. Every time someone in the House stands up to speak, the empty chair in the middle would be a stark reminder to keep the shots above the belt.

-- Mia Rabson / The Capital Chronicles

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Premier, Mayor comment on CMHR opening

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Perfect Day- Paul Buteux walks  his dog Cassie Tuesday on the Sagimay Trail in Assiniboine Forest enjoying a almost perfect  fall day in Winnipeg- Standup photo – September 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should the Canadian Museum for Human Rights use the word 'genocide' in exhibits on Indian residential schools?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google