Ottawa: Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan organization dedicated to the election of women, is deeply saddened by the loss of the Honourable Jack Layton, Leader of the Official Opposition in Canada’s 41st Parliament.
As leader of the New Democratic Party since 2003, Mr. Layton demonstrated a tremendous commitment to promoting women’s political engagement. Under his leadership, the New Democratic Party consistently nominated significant numbers of women to run as candidates for the party, and Mr. Layton’s caucus always included a high proportion of women.
In this past 2011 federal election, the NDP elected the highest number of women to ever serve in an Official Opposition caucus- 40 women or 39 percent of the NDP caucus, contributing to the highest number of women ever elected to the House of Commons. Mr. Layton was an early and passionate supporter of Equal Voice and never equivocated in accepting Equal Voice’s challenge to increase the numbers of women in electoral politics.
For this leadership, Equal Voice honoured Jack Layton last March as one of three male Champions in recognition of its tenth anniversary. Mr. Layton attended the Equal Voice awards ceremony in person, two days after undergoing hip surgery, at the Government Conference Centre here in Ottawa.
“Jack Layton was an enthusiastic and committed supporter of the cause of electing more women in Canada. Not only that, his actions matched his words. We have lost a wonderful friend and we will miss him very much,” said Donna Dasko, Equal Voice National Chair.
Mr. Layton facilitated women’s leadership and amplified their voices by appointing them to positions typically occupied by men. Under his watch, Judy Wasylesia-Leis served as the first female federal finance critic in Canada’s history, followed by Member of Parliament Peggy Nash in the current Parliament. He placed enormous confidence in Member of Parliament Libby Davies who served as House leader and, more recently, as co-Deputy leader. He also appointed women to senior management positions. Both his chief of staff and director of strategic communications are women.
Mr. Layton also recommended that newly elected Member of Parliament, Nycole Turmel, serve as interim leader of the Official Opposition, one of only two women in Canada’s history to lead the Official Opposition. His political and personal partnership with Member of Parliament Olivia Chow was an inspiration to many.
“Jack Layton was acutely aware that a healthy democracy and a vibrant political party heavily rely on having both women and men in senior positions at the table. He had an incredible respect for the contributions that women can make,” said Nancy Peckford, Executive Director of Equal Voice.
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For more information:
Donna Dasko: firstname.lastname@example.org or 647-282-5727
Nancy Peckford: email@example.com or 613-292-7941