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Jack Layton at Laurier

Jack Layton speaking at the Paul Martin Centre (he noted the irony)

A couple of weeks ago, Jack Layton came to Laurier as part of a university tour that included several universities in the Ontario. Half an hour before it began, I lay in bed thinking about how tired I was and whether or not there would be free food. In the end, I decided to go because political underdogs have always held a certain fascination for me; the ones who strive in the background in the face of all opposition in hopes that they can effect some real change. Or at least, that's what I'd like to think. Half an hour later, I found myself staring at a packed room with all the seats either filled or being held for others. Damn. However, Laura spotted me and waved me over to graciously offer me a seat in the front row.

While the topics were interesting, such as environmental issues, post-secondary education, and the war in Afghanistan, I found myself more interested in how Jack Layton spoke. There is something about listening to political leaders speak, after all, part of their survival depends on charm and charisma. When I was in high school, I had an opportunity to hear Brian Mulroney speak. I don't remember much from his speech, aside from an anecdote about a brief exchange he had with a woman in an elevator, "You look a lot like Brian Mulroney." He smiled and figured he wouldn't say anything about being former Prime Minister, "I know". And the woman leaned over and whispered, "I'm sorry".

When he finished, there was a standing ovation. And it wasn't one of those half-assed standing ovations, the ones where everyone stands up because a handful of people in the front are clapping wildly and then you feel bad because you're still sitting down. No, it was one of those standing ovations in which everyone immediately rose. You couldn't help but like him. No matter how much people may despise him for NAFTA, the GST, or his patronage appointments to the Senate, the fact remains is that he is probably one of the best public speakers to ever hold the office of the Prime Minister.

Who's the best public speaker you've ever heard?

Comments (3)


I heard Romeo Dallaire speak twice - once two years ago at Laurier and once this past September at a rally in Toronto. Both times I balled. Guttural,heavy sobs. It was pretty heavy considering I hadnt cried in over two years. I'm not sure why I cried - I guess it was the combination of hearing his visceral story, feeling some sense of guilt and responsibility and his determination to make sure that no one ever forgets. It was weird b/c I sat there balling thinking I was the only one and then my friend held my hand and I realized he was also crying and we never spoke about it but something about the eloquent nature of Dallaire's word so crystalized the issue of genocide and Rwanda that it literally moved us to tears.


Hey, like the blog title, and like the Jack Layton post. I was just surfing canadian blogs that mention cycling and found yours.

I'm just trying to spread the word about this petition:

which, if you are on the NDP side of the political spectrum, you might like to sign. It asks the Federal Gov. to promote cycling here in Canada.

Take care!

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