It's not everyday, you meet an important Canadian parliamentary leader in a pub on St. Patrick's Day…
– but Jack Layton was in Vancouver for Celticfest and the St. Patrick's Day Parade
We had spent 3 hours in the cold preparing and walking in the parade
with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Pipe & Drums, and Gung Haggis Fat
Choy dragon boat team, carrying a parade dragon, lion head masks and
dragon boat paddles. We were cold, and in need of warm food and
carbohydrate replenishment. Jack Layton, federal NDP leader had been in the parade too. He often
comes in August for Vancouver's Pride Parade. Jack said he was also in Vancouver to attend an event for Don Davies, MP for Vancouver Kensington.
I've known Don for a few years, when he first introduced himself to me at one of Meena Wong's dim sum luncheons (coincidence: Meena had been an assistant for Jack Layton's wife Olivia Chow in Toronto). Jack's wife is Chinese-Canadian MP, Olivia Chow, and they are also friends of Canadian author Joy Kogawa. Wow… Jack and Olivia are a real inter-cultural couple on a national scale! Very Gung Haggis! I had dim sum with Olivia in 2007, at one of Meena Wong's dim sum socials with Chinese head tax activists, see: Dim Sum with Olivia Chow in Vancouver
I asked Jack, if he had Scottish ancestry, which he affirmed. It was on Robbie
Burns Day, January 25th 2003, he became
federal leader of the NDP (New Democratic
Party”). If Robbie Burns was the ploughman's poet, then Jack Layton must be the workers' parliamentarian.
Layton's views of social democracy, probably
best represent Robert Burns's similar views – more
than the other federal leaders. Burns was such a progressive thinker of the Scottish enlightenment, that many of his views were not published until after his death – they would have been considered “that radical”. Remember that during Burns' time, happening around him was the American Revolution, and the French Revolution, as Modern Democracy emerged. But 250 years later they fit very much into a social democratic world. Layton's great-granduncle, William Steeves, was a
Father of Confederation. Layton's own grandfather
Gilbert Layton was a cabinet minister in the
Quebec provincial government, and his father
Robert Layton was a Member of Parliament and
Just as Jack Layton was preparing to leave the pub, our bagpipers started playing some songs. Jack took out his cell phone and started videoing them, then recorded a Happy St. Patrick's Day message. Maybe this will appear on his web page. I used my camera to record the action.
Check it this video:
McMordie, David Murray –
Filmed by Jack Layton,