OTTAWA -- Joe Biden delivered a message of hope and optimism Thursday evening during his acceptance speech as the Democratic presidential nominee, and at the same time evoked memories of a letter written nine years ago by the late NDP Leader Jack Layton, days before his death.

In his highly anticipated remarks during the finale of the four-day Democratic convention, Biden reflected, "For Love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear. Light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment. This is our mission."

While he wasn’t met with applause, given the crowd-less realities of giving a virtual speech in a pandemic, social media reaction and news headlines Friday morning show the former vice president exceeded expectations, even among some conservatives.

Biden’s emotional words brought the NDP’s national director, Anne McGrath, back to 2011, when the party’s then beloved leader penned a deeply emotional open letter to Canadians a few days before his long battle with cancer came to an end.

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world," he wrote.

In an interview with, McGrath said she’s still stopped regularly by people touched by his message.

"What Jack said in his final letter, it struck a chord with so many Canadians and actually people around the world, not just because of the words but because of his life and his contribution," she said.

"It’s interesting, it hasn’t faded as much as you’d expect."

Saturday, August 22, will be the ninth anniversary of Layton’s death.

He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 but didn’t let it stop his fight in the 2011 federal election campaign that vaulted his party to official opposition for the first time in history. He announced he’d been battling a new form of cancer in July of that year, the same day he said he’d be taking a leave of absence as leader.

"I think one of the things that makes that message so powerful,” said McGrath, “is that it was in the face of sorrow and grief and tragedy. I often think optimism is probably easy for a lot of people who haven’t faced obstacles."

She noted the different level of sorrow and grief in the U.S., following weeks of anti-police brutality protests and a continuous surge of COVID-19 deaths in the country, that likely emboldened Biden’s speech.

Republican strategist Thomas Rath told CTV News Channel on Friday that Biden hit an emotional chord with Americans – getting personal as opposed to focusing on heavy policy pillars.

"What Biden is really good at is identifying the emotional state of the population and addressing it," he said. "He was the most restrained and disciplined I’ve ever seen him."