Layton to lie in state in House of Commons foyer
Published Tuesday, August 23, 2011 10:05PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:44AM EDT
The body of NDP Leader Jack Layton will lie in state in the foyer outside the House of Commons for two days before his state funeral is held in Toronto on the weekend.
Members of the public will be able to pay their respects to Layton on Wednesday from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Ottawa.
His flag-draped casket will be escorted into the House of Commons by the RCMP and met by a large circle of NDP MPs.
Canadians can also pay tribute to Layton as he lies in repose at Toronto City Hall on Friday, Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, Aug. 27 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
His funeral service will take place at Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended the offer of a state funeral for Layton to the late NDP leader's wife, MP Olivia Chow, which she accepted.
In Canada, state funerals are traditionally offered only to prime ministers and governors general, whether current or former, as well as current cabinet ministers.
But a Harper spokesperson said the prime minister had "exercised his discretion" in offering the option of holding a state funeral for Layton.
Flags on all Government of Canada buildings, including the Peace Tower in Ottawa, will be flown at half-mast until sunset on the day of Layton's funeral.
On Tuesday afternoon, Acting NDP Leader Nycole Turmel thanked Harper for his "generous offer" and she said the party's thoughts are with Layton's wife and surviving children at this difficult time.
Former prime minister Paul Martin said the outpouring of grief from ordinary Canadians in the wake of Layton's passing was evidence enough that "a state funeral is certainly warranted."
Martin told CTV News Channel on Tuesday morning that Layton "was somebody who really gave his whole life to public service and to Canadians," during his nearly three decades in politics.
New Democrats are awash in grief over the loss of Layton, who is being remembered as an inspiring and highly capable leader.
Turmel said on Tuesday that the party will decide in the next few weeks how it will organize the next convention to determine a new leader.
"We haven't worked on the details at this point; at this point we want to grieve," she said.
Deputy NDP Leader Libby Davies said Tuesday that party members have lost a leader who helped push them to new heights of success.
"I don't know that people understand that he was an amazing team builder," Davies told CTV's Canada AM from St. John's on Tuesday morning.
"It wasn't about him, it was about building the team and a movement in this country. And that's really his lasting legacy."
New Democrat MP Paul Dewar said Layton had a way of lifting the people around him, a special quality in a leader who will be missed now that he is gone.
"Anyone who was around him for more than 10 minutes just picked up their game, so to speak, and their energy," Dewar told CTV News Channel from Ottawa.
"It was hard to be down around Jack."
For eight years, Layton led the New Democrats to increasing success at the polls, culminating in the results of the recent election that saw the party claim the Official Opposition status from the Liberals.
The party won dozens of seats in the province of Quebec in the May election, reducing the separatist Bloc Quebecois to group of just four MPs in the House of Commons.
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday that Layton helped broaden the New Democrats' appeal and transformed the NDP into "a genuinely national party."
After the May election, Mulroney spoke to Layton by telephone, at which point the NDP leader remained upbeat and looking "to the fight in the fall."
Sadly, Layton would not get that chance.
Diagnosed with a new cancer, he was forced to take a leave of absence from his job in July to seek medical treatment. He died Monday at the age of 61.
It was the first time in more than 90 years that an Opposition leader died in office.
The NDP is inviting the public to sign books of condolences for Jack Layton at party constituency offices across the country. And the party website has set up a section for people to do the same thing online.
Layton's family has asked that donations be made to The Broadbent Institute in lieu of flowers.
With files from The Canadian Press and a report from CTV's Richard Madan