We were all shocked on Monday morning when news broke of the death of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton. We knew just from seeing him on TV only a month before, when he announced he was going to take some time to deal with a new form of cancer, that things didn’t look good – but the speed with which the end came was staggering. Throughout his time in public life, and especially at the federal level, various writers here at TD&F – myself included – have often praised Layton’s communications and media savvy. So it wasn’t surprising that one of the last acts of his life was to prepare a final message to Canadians, to be made public immediately in the wake of his death. Sure, he worked with a few close confidantes on it, but so does every political leader on every missive. The letter, dubbed by many media outlets as Layton’s “love letter to Canada,” was as quotable as it was poignant – with messages of hope, optimism and positivity directed at quarters from young Canadians to Quebecers to his own party members to people dealing with cancer just as he was. Excerpts began immediately popping up on Facebook and Twitter in the form of status updates and newly-minted avatars – and suddenly, reporters didn’t have to go searching back through an unfathomable mountain of Layton quotes from over the years in order to sum up his thoughts, hopes and aspirations for the country he left behind: the fresh copy was right there. Well played, Jack, right to the last. We’ll miss you for many reasons, but one of the big ones will be the communications lessons we all learned from just watching you in action.