This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

Jack Layton Charities: The Causes Championed By The Late Leader

It's been one year since Jack Layton passed away, and still the man's values and compassion resonate with Canadians across the country.

The lifelong politician was a man well known for promoting the NDP's policies, but as was evident in the outpouring of fond memories and grief after his death on August 22, 2011, he also represented causes that were incredibly close to people's hearts.

In his memorable final letter to Canadians, Layton emphasized the potential for what our country can do together.

Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world's environment. We can restore our good name in the world.

While Layton hoped these changes would come through action in the House of Commons, there's no question his work outside Parliament did much to improve Canada as well.

Here, we take a look at the causes closest to Layton's heart, and how he helped moved them forward:

Jack Layton's Causes

Violence Against Women

As one of the founders of the White Ribbon Campaign, an organization created by men to end the silence on violence against women, Layton worked to raise awareness of this serious issue from a male perspective. Now established in 55 countries, the organization makes sure both men and women are part of this important conversation.

The Environment

A longtime believer in the need for citizens to care about the environment, Layton not only toed the party line on the issue, but also retrofitted his own home, as shown on the Rick Mercer Report.

Post-Secondary Education

Belief in fair, affordable post-secondary education for all was a cornerstone of Layton's speeches for years, calling for funding to help students back in the budget of 2006.


As the author of a book on the topic, Layton was certainly an expert on homelessness and hugely passionate about eliminating the problem in Canada. As Vision Vancouver's Kerry Jang recently told the Georgia Straight, "He really trained a generation of us to look at homelessness as a health issue from the get-go -- and taking the politics right out of it."

LGBT Rights And Causes

It wasn't just about attending the Pride Parade -- Layton was one of Toronto's first advocates for gay rights, taking part in such crucial projects as helping with the AIDS crisis, speaking out against the city's bathhouse raids and expressing his support for gay marriage long before it became a cause sponsored by celebrities.


As the legend goes, Layton designed the iconic Toronto bike racks on a napkin in a bar -- and whether or not that particular myth is true, he certainly did his part to portray cycling as a green, budget-friendly transportation option, serving on the city's cycling committee and convincing his son, city councillor Mike Layton, to head it up as well once Mayor Ford disbanded citizen groups.

Aboriginal Communities

From the historic 2008 apology to those who attended residential schools that crossed party lines to a focus on aboriginal communities in every election, Layton brought this often neglected population to the forefront. As one young Aboriginal man wrote on his blog, "But when there are role models, like Jack Layton, that make these inaccessible systems feel like they are listening to someone like me...that has to be something big. That has to be acknowledged, because what he has done, is he has broken down those walls."


He may have been vehemently anti-war, but Layton was an advocate for military benefits and pensions through and through.

Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada. Certain site features have been disabled. If you have questions or concerns, please check our FAQ or contact