I woke up in a lodge in Jasper National Park a year ago today. Despite being on vacation, I had set my alarm early to do some work. A client was launching a campaign that morning and I had to check on the paid media components and online chatter.

That’s when I saw it. A status update by Murray McGregor.

RIP Jack Layton.

I was stunned. I’m not sure what I said, though I remember clearly that it woke up Andrea. I confirmed the news on CBC.ca. Then Andrea and I listened to the live stream hosted by Evan Solomon.

It was an interesting experience being in Alberta — a province with deep conservative roots — that week.

The Columbia Ice Fields, Lake Louise, Banff, Calgary… everywhere we went flags on public and private property flew at half staff. Most conversations we overheard typically began with “I don’t agree with his politics, but…” followed by statements expressing respect and even admiration for Jack Layton’s enthusiasm, energy and conviction to make Canada a better place.

We listened to the state funeral on the car radio as we drove from Calgary to a friend’s farm outside of Edmonton. The car seemed immense; each of us was buckled into our own seat, isolated from one another.

That night, a large group of friends from all over Canada, of all political stripes, gathered around a camp fire and sang Hallelujah.

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