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The Procession

Layton’s casket to cross into Quebec after second day of lying in state Add to ...

In another symbolic move, Jack Layton’s hearse will drive briefly across the Ottawa River and into Quebec when it leaves Parliament Hill Thursday afternoon.

The hearse will slow down in front of the Museum of Civilization, which is directly across the river from Parliament. It will also slow down in front of Gatineau City Hall before it crosses the bridge back into Ottawa and heads to Toronto.

In addition, as his body leaves the Centre Block for the last time, it will be led by a piper. There will be a 15-gun salute and the Dominion Carillonneur will play O Canada on the Peace Tower Bells. John Lennon’s Imagine will also be played.

Mr. Layton is lying in state in the foyer of the House of Commons for the second day after his flag-draped casket arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday.

After MPs, dignitaries and NDP staff bid him farewell in the morning, about 10,000 Canadians paid their respects to Mr. Layton through into the night. House of Commons officials closed off the line at 9 p.m. The last mourners went through after 10 o’clock.

Officials estimated that 1,000 people went through every hour. Hundreds more were lined up Thursday morning, more than an hour before public visitations resumed at 9 a.m.

The procession’s quick journey into Quebec is to reflect the support Mr. Layton received in the May 2 election, which saw 59 of 75 in that province seats go to the New Democrats. Quebeckers embraced Mr. Layton’s federalist message over that of the separatist Bloc Québécois.

Before that, however, around 12:30, his family will visit the makeshift public memorial on Parliament Hill. Mr. Layton’s two brothers, Robert and David, as well as his Olivia Chow’s mother, Ho Sze Chow, are to join the other family members Thursday. They will also tour the Opposition Leader’s Office on the fourth floor of Centre Block.

After the brief visit to Quebec, the hearse will drive back to Toronto. His body will lie in repose at City Hall; the doors will open to VIPs at 8 a.m. Friday and an hour later they will open to the public. They stay open until 8 p.m. Again, Saturday, there is a public visitation between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. before the funeral that afternoon at Roy Thomson Hall.

All in the (modern) family

The image projected Wednesday as Olivia Chow and Jack Layton’s loved ones gathered around his flag-draped casket was one of a truly modern family – his wife, his adult son and daughter, his blonde-haired granddaughter and his first wife, Sally Roy, the mother of his children.

“He used to always tell me that she was one of his best friends,” said Anne McGrath, Mr. Layton’s long-time chief of staff. “He always talked about her. It’s phenomenal, actually.”

Ms. Roy and Mr. Layton married very young – he was 19. Their marriage lasted for 14 years, until 1983.

The (media savvy) games they played

Mike Duffy is a Conservative Senator now, but before his appointment he was a broadcaster on CTV. He recalled this week an interview he did with Olivia Chow in 2003 as they were awaiting the results of the leadership vote that Mr. Layton, of course, won. “I asked her what do you and Jack do for fun? She said ‘We play sound bite.’”

She explained they would hone their media lines for that day. “The idea was to condense their quotes to make them more suitable for TV. Olivia said she could condense her quotes to 9 or 10 words. She said Jack would be longer, 14 or 15 words. They would then sit in bed, watch the late news to see whose clip made it to air. She said she would appear on TV most often because she always had the shortest clip.”

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