Canada Opposition Leader Jack Layton Dies

Posted August 23rd, 2011 at 1:35 am (UTC-5)
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Canada's New Democrat party leader Jack Layton died Monday from cancer. Layton's party announced his death, saying the charismatic politician died at his Toronto home, surrounded by his family.

During the May 2 elections, Layton helped his party become the dominant opposition group in Canada's Parliament while battling cancer. The NDP controls 103 of 308 total seats.

Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney called Layton an “honorable, decent, loyal” man.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered the Layton family a state funeral for the popular politician. The funeral will be held Saturday's in Toronto.

Layton penned a letter for release upon his death. The letter encourages others battling cancer, despite his death, to continue fighting the disease. Layton said, “You must not lose your own hope.”

Canadians have left flowers and cards at the eternal flame located on Ottawa's Parliament Hill. The national flag has been lowered to half staff until after the funeral service.