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News Americas, TORONTO, Canada, Tues. Aug. 23, 2011: Jack Layton, the leader of Canada’s official opposition, has passed away at the age of 61.

Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 a.m. Monday August 22 peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones, a family statement said.

Layton had almost single-handedly turned his leftist party into the second largest in the House of Commons and in May guided the NDP to its strongest performance in the May federal election. He had stepped down in July as party leader to fight his illness, passing on the baton to Nycole Turmel, who is serving as interim leader.

Layton was elected in 2003 as leader of the left-leaning New Democrats, who constantly were the third party in the Canadian parliament.

The 2011 federal election campaign looked like a straight battle between the Conservatives under Harper and the Liberals’ Michael Ignatieff.
But Layton’s party scored its historic win by garnering 103 seats, up from a previous 37
Details of Layton’s funeral arrangements are forthcoming.

He is survived by his wife Olivia Chow and his two children from a previous marriage, Michael and Sarah.

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