Federal NDP leader Jack Layton and Victoria MP Denise Savoie. Layton announced this week he will take a temporary leave as party leader to fight an undisclosed form of cancer.

Federal NDP leader Jack Layton and Victoria MP Denise Savoie. Layton announced this week he will take a temporary leave as party leader to fight an undisclosed form of cancer.

Wave of local support for ailing Layton

NDP leader responsible for getting Victoria MP into federal politics

Jack Layton is no stranger to the Capital Region.

So it didn’t surprise Victoria MP Denise Savoie when a flood of best wishes and messages of support for the federal NDP leader inundated her constituency office Monday.

Layton, 61, recently fought off prostate cancer, but announced Monday he’ll temporarily step aside as party leader to battle an undisclosed form of cancer.

“It was very moving to feel that support,” Savoie said, describing Layton as an inspiration, both as a politician and a person. “I’ve always admired his determination and his optimism and his courage. Those are qualities that he’s always had and continues to have, as we saw during his press conference.”

She credits him for getting her into federal politics, but the pair have known each other for a decade, since the days when Savoie was a Victoria city councillor and Layton was president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“He has totally been an advocate and continues to be an advocate for Canadians. He really is mindful of what regular Canadians face in their lives,” she said. “Even now, his goal is to fight this so he can come back and fight for Canadians. I guess that’s why he inspired me to jump in to federal politics.”

The hard work Layton demonstrated in building the party to official Opposition status will continue to be reflected even without his presence, Savoie said, given that the NDP caucus is devoted to achieving his goals.

“I think parties are defined by how they deal with the toughest times. Without Jack, we’re certainly – for a few months anyway – going to really rally together and continue that momentum.”

Savoie pointed to a message she read on Twitter that sums up the type of person Layton is.

“Somebody should warn cancer that Jack Layton is coming after it,” she said, recalling the tweet. “It’s reflective of the kind of fighter he is. He’s got all the right qualities to win this battle.”

To send Layton a message of support, visit www.ndp.ca/get-well-jack.

kslavin@saanichnews.com