Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan made the exceptional move Tuesday of honouring the memory of fallen federal NDP leader Jack Layton by lowering city flags to half-staff.
Ruttan said the decision was “a bit of a challenge” because the situation falls outside regular protocol, but because Layton will be honoured with a state funeral on Saturday, Ruttan said he felt it was appropriate.
“According to protocol, if it’s an MP, it’s the riding in which they reside that determines whether or not flags are lowered,” said Ruttan. “When it was announced there will be a state funeral, it was elevated to a different position. Out of respect for Jack Layton and what he did for Canada, we’ve lowered all of the city flags.”
City flags will be at half-staff until Saturday after the funeral.
Ruttan said Layton transcended political boundaries as a leader who was approachable, available and always willing to have a chat with regular citizens on virtually any topic.
“I had a meal with him once and coffee two or three times and he is a very approachable guy,” added Ruttan. “Of course, his background was similar as a city councillor at the beginning of his political career, but he was a very easy guy to talk to and we felt it was important to honour the efforts he made for his party and for the country.”
Layton died of cancer early Monday morning, just 12 weeks after leading the NDP to 103 seats in the House of Commons and its first time as Official Opposition. He was 61.