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Canada to hold state funeral for largest opposition party leader

(Xinhua)

11:04, August 23, 2011

OTTAWA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The Canadian government will hold a state funeral for Jack Layton, leader of Canada's largest opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), who died of cancer at the age of 61 early on Monday, a senior official said.

Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said in a brief message that Layton's wife Olivia Chow, a Chinese Canadian and Member of Parliament, has accepted Harper's offer of a state funeral for her husband.

"Canadians will have an opportunity to salute Jack Layton's contribution to public life as well as offer their heartfelt condolences, their thoughts and prayers to Mr. Layton's family," he said, adding that details of the funeral will follow in due course.

Canada's practice of providing state funerals for current and former Governors General, current and former Prime Ministers and current members of cabinet has been followed since the federal Dominion of Canada was formed on July 1, 1867.

Earlier on Monday, Layton's wife Chow said her husband passed away peacefully at 4:45 a.m. at home in Toronto surrounded by family and loved ones.

Layton's death comes less than a month after he announced on July 25 that he was fighting an unnamed cancer, the second following his prostate cancer diagnosed in late 2009.

At a hoarse voice, an emaciated Layton said at a press conference in Toronto that he was confident he could come back to Parliament in the fall when it is in session.

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