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Canadian leaders mourn death of largest opposition party leader

(Xinhua)

08:50, August 23, 2011

OTTAWA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Canadian leaders mourned on Monday the death of Jack Layton, leader of Canada's largest opposition New Democratic Party.

Layton died of cancer at the age of 61 early Monday at his home in Toronto, his wife said in a statement. Olivia Chow, who is a Chinese Canadian and Member of Parliament, said her husband passed away peacefully at 4:45 am at home surrounded by family and loved ones.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement saying he was saddened to hear the news.

Harper said that on behalf of all Canadians, he salutes Jack's contribution to public life, a contribution that will be sorely missed.

"I know one thing: Jack gave his fight against cancer everything he had," he said."Indeed, Jack never backed down from any fight."

In his statement, David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, said Layton, as leader of the official opposition party, was held in great esteem by Canadians for his passionate dedication to the public good.

"Throughout his career as a community leader and politician, he constantly strived to bring people together in the common cause of building a better Canada, and he did so with so with great energy and commitment," he said.

Interim Liberal Party leader Bob Rae said the news took his breath away and that Layton's death is not just a loss for his party, but for all Canadians.

"It's a loss for the country because he was a political guy who believed strongly in politics and who had a lot of resilience and a lot of guts," Rae told local media.

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