I had suspected for months before the last federal election that Jack Layton was very illl. Indeed it is one of the reasons I kept predicting no election. Lysiane Gagnon asks some very relevant Questions.
This issue is particularly acute in Quebec, since most of those who voted for the NDP didn’t vote for the party, let alone for its unknown and invisible local candidates. They voted for Jack Layton – a sharp contrast with the other provinces, where the New Democrats have roots and long-time followers. The personality of the leader didn’t matter as much as it did in Quebec.
Last week, La Presse columnist Patrick Lagacé didn’t mince words: “Mr. Layton ran for the highest office knowing that the crab was gnawing at his bones. We should have been told. This would have changed the vote of thousands of people, that’s clear. And it’s someone who voted for the NDP who’s telling you this.”
Did Mr. Layton know about his “second cancer” before the election campaign? In March, he began to suffer hip pain. Tests showed he had a fracture and required surgery. Was this due to bone cancer?
Last week, Olivia Chow, Mr. Layton’s widow, told the CBC that she didn’t want to reveal what type of cancer killed her husband because it might “discourage” other cancer sufferers. This is preposterous. Cancer patients are not stupid. They know that there are as many cases as there are individuals, and that some of them will survive and some of them will die. Why treat them like children incapable of making a distinction between Mr. Layton’s fate and their own?
I can understand why Mr. Layton did not acknowledge his condition at the outset of the election campaign. He would have had to resign, thereby throwing his party in disarray. And for him, campaigning was certainly the best therapy he could have. Indeed, for a while, the flow of adrenalin trumped the disease. Still, his story should come as a lesson.
Maybe, as Mr. Picard concluded, it’s time for Canadian politicians to adopt the rules that prevail in the United States, where health records must be disclosed.