08.30.2012 07:19 AM

Nearly $400,000

That’s a lot of money. A lot.

Three things.

One, I thought it was gracious of Stephen Harper to offer a state funeral. I wonder if he’s now having second thoughts?

Two: at the time, it was well-known in political circles that NDP organizers were turning that funeral into something other than a funeral, and it was appalling. I wonder why nobody said anything?

Three, that is just a huge amount of money – money that could have been used in many other positive ways. I wonder if Jack Layton himself would have approved?

My guess? No.


  1. Tiger says:

    Nobody said anything — well, a few people said things — because they’d’ve gotten their heads bitten off at the time.

    I think it was a good thing to offer the state funeral. To the extent that it was politicized (Stephen Lewis, we’re looking at you), it looks bad on the people doing it. Like what happened at the Wellstone funeral in Minnesota.

    Harper did fine on this: there’s not a single nit to pick except for by the Tories and Grits who think this was a waste of public money. I think you budget a certain amount for national pageantry and memorial events, and this sum falls under that category. It was in the public mood to give Layton a classy send-off, and so we (Canadian taxpayers) did.

    I’ll suggest that Jack Layton WOULD have approved — but that, you know, is the hyper-political Layton whom we’ve agreed to cover over in our memories with St. Jack of Hudson and the Annex. But he existed, too, right there alongside the singing fellow we all liked. Couldn’t have had the one without the other.

    • Nic Coivert says:

      Harper made it a state funeral simply to buoy the NDP’s bubble and to create a kind of martyr for NDPer’s thus solidifying there identity as such and not as left leaning Liberals. In short, he did this for how it could hurt the Libs and any attempt at cooperation between them and NDP.

  2. Lord Kitchener says:

    Tell it like it is, WK.

  3. Ted H says:

    Jack was a public figure beloved by many people, no one should begrudge the money spent on the state funeral.

    I am sure Stephen Harper does not mind the expense because whatever your thoughts on the Canadian political spectrum, there is no doubt that Jack helped Mr. Harper get his majority government, so Harper owed Jack and his family big time.

    Yes the Liberals made bad choices and to some extent self destructed, but Jack hammered the Liberals much more than he ever did the Conservatives and put the fortunes of the NDP above the needs of the Canadian people. Of course, that is what a party leader is supposed to do and while he gained official opposition status, a historical step for the NDP, Jack had more opportunities to actually enact policy that would help ordinary Canadians if he had worked more diligently, for example, with the Martin minority rather than siding with the Conservatives in a confidence vote.

    Again, as a political leader, his job was to advance his party and he did a good job, but let’s not kid ourselves, Saint Jack didn’t actually do much to help working people, at least not on the Federal level, perhaps he did more as a Toronto councillor, but that is not why he is celebrated.

    • MM says:

      “Jack … put the fortunes of the NDP above the needs of the Canadian people.”

      Yes, that is what I’ll always remember Jack for and I haven’t yet forgiven him.

    • Billy boy says:

      Of course only a self-entitled Liberal would assume that Liberals, the natural governing party must win or it’s bad for Canadians. What if Jack, wait for it, actually believed that what’s best for the Canadian people is a legitimate functioning official opposition and an NDP government in waiting whose policies would be best for Canadians.

      You know Liberals, it’s not always about you. Your hubris, and Justin has more than his portion of it, is your tragic flaw.

      • MM says:

        Well, I could live with an NDP government. What I don’t like is having a Harper government and it seems to me that that was the obvious outcome of the NDP voting down the Martin government and then going all out against the Liberals in the insuing elections. Of course it did get the NDP a few more seats which is what I believe Jack wanted. He seemed to be just fine with a Harper government.

  4. smelter rat says:

    Like my mom always said, “there’s no use crying over spilled milk”.

  5. Lou Arab says:

    It’s not a lot of money, and I think you know it.

    It was a big event, with a lot of people, because a lot of people wanted to show their respects. It was less than Pierre Trudeau’s funeral twelve years ago. Did you complain about that? I hope not, since that was also a perfectly reasonable amount.

    The comments above really show that there are Liberals still not willing to accept the fact that their party was brought down by many factors, not just Jack Layton.

    But having said that – the fact Layton outsmarted and outworked the Liberals every step of the way during his years in federal politics is part of what makes many Canadians like the man.

    And I think that’s what really hurts Liberal partisans.

    • Conservative Socialist says:

      The NDP and the Liberals compete for the same pool of center-left voters. Liberals are more establishment and pro-business, so they tend to be more conservative. That Layton attacked the Liberals more than Harper was the logical thing to do. If he is to position the NDP into where they can actually achieve power, they need to be known as the main party of the left. That’s what Reform did to the PCs, but Western Convervatives eventually got over their grievances and quietly absorbed their former electoral competitors on the right while even taking their old name.

      The NDP has always attacked the Liberals this way, but with only limited success. It was a combination of perfect timing and a charismatic leader which propelled them to where they are now. Past NDP leaders don’t get as much criticism because they were never nearly as successful as Layton was. The only good Dipper, is an ineffective Dipper.

      As for the costs, state funerals are normally reserved for former heads of state. But in the case of Layton, while he never achieved such a title, here you had the Leader of Opposition who died while in office. And this was so shortly after he had achieved the pinnacle of success. The state funeral was quite apt. In years from now, the funeral for Ed Broadbent will likely be a more modest affair..

      So yeah, Jack’s funeral was going to cost more than a funeral for an ex-Governor General.

      As for the NDP milking it for what it’s worth, no one should really be surprised when they say “Do it for Jack”. That’s par for political discourse. If something similar happened to an emerging charismatic figure who was suddenly taken away from them, the Liberals or Conservatives would be stupid to not use it to their advantage.

  6. Patrick says:

    Has anyone considered what other state funerals have cost the taxpayer? Is $300,000 radically higher than the cost of those convened for past dignitaries. I’d wager it’s actually less money than many.

    CBC reports, for example, that the state funeral for Pierre Trudeau cost over $650,000. Throwing a big public commemoration on the Hill and in Montreal/Toronto is damned expensive, as is paying for a cross-service honour guard, accomodating the media, renting a large public venue and conducting associated promotional activities. In fairness, though, they did get former GG state funerals done for around $250,000. Both Hnatyshyn and Leblanc, dedicated and virtuous public servants that they were, died very old menafter relatively foreseeable declines associated with old age. Canada simply had no experience with a guy of Jack’s magnitude just dropping dead immediately following a historic result like that of 2011.

    And please, no one say: “but Trudeau was the PM and Jack Layton wasn’t.” That’s not the point. There may be a legitimate debate there about protocol but the point is that in one of his rare classy moves, Prime Minister Harper extended the offer of a state funeral to the fallen leader’s widow Olivia Chow and she accepted. As Chief Executive he had both the right and the ability to do so, a move the public – even conservatives – overwhelmingly supported. It’s not hard to understand why, either, given the near-Shakesperean nature of Jack’s tragic demise, and the impact it had on many Canadians.

    On a final note: I’d like to see anyone here, however frugal, manage an event of that size for meaningfully less.

    • JBG says:

      By my math, and preliminary 2011 population figures from Statistics Canada, the funeral bill works out to just over a penny for every Canadian. If Warren won’t chip in his share, as a fellow Liberal I’ll agree to cover it. That’s my two cents.

  7. Patrick says:

    On an unrelated note, Warren, I think you’ve beat the Layton horse enough of late. Especially as a guy who purports to support progressive unity, I respectfully submit you should leave this one alone for a while. This is like your fifth post on the topic in two weeks, including a highly controversial Sun article.

    This is becoming needlessly divisive and largely futile. Move on, man.

    • pcase says:

      Well, I would argue there is some grey area between being partners or being enemies. And, if you truly believe in a unified left/centre, why not be the bigger man and lead the way.

      Nathan Cullen, stepped out of the shadows and the orthodoxy to courageously begin the conversation in the public eye. Why not lead the way on this by showing where we can begin to build bridges.

      So what if the current party mouthpieces shun the idea. They wouldn’t be able to if the membership were convinced and supported the idea fervently.

      Blaming the other sides response to your offering for being an “enemy” seems a little childish.

  8. JFD says:

    The pathetic smallness of this post neatly sums up why Canadian politics and the people in it are a joke. Jeez.

  9. Steven Lloyd says:

    I am sure you were equally outraged by the Trudeau’s state funeral that cost $650,000

  10. Kelly Oh says:

    I am kao568@mail.usask.ca and I am a pious, humourless wet.

    • Kelly Oh says:

      Well, better a wet than a dry, you prohibition-era, Hoover supporting, teetotaller. Wait, you weren’t going with 1920’s slang at all were you?

  11. Anyong says:

    I guess it is easy to complain about the money Layton’s funneral cost a year later. Can’t you find something else to complain about? Such as all the tax evasion money hidden away in off shore accounts where the Canadian wealthy hide their money and don’t contribute to the infrastructure of their own country. Where the Canadian govenment for years has been turning its back on 200,000 million in tax loses and nickle and diming the working people of this country….give it a try…it might open your eyes….of course you already know about it .

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