International news organizations ignore Canadian tragedy

NDP leader Jack Layton

Jack Layton. Picture: NDP

I’m surprised and disappointed that at least two major international news organisations still have not reported the death yesterday of Jack Layton, leader of Canada’s official opposition.

More than 36 hours after Mr Layton’s untimely death at the age of 61, searching the websites of CNN and Al Jazeera English turns up nothing. (Screenshots here and here.)

And if the websites don’t have it, then I’d be surprised if the TV channels mentioned it at all.

Mr Layton died just three months after leading the New Democratic Party to a record-breaking result, including a virtual sweep of seats in Quebec. During the cross-country campaign, he looked to have made a remarkable recovery from prostate cancer. Then last month, looking gaunt, he announced that he had another form of cancer and would be stepping aside while undergoing treatment.

His family announced his death Monday morning, Toronto time, shocking the nation and triggering a public outpouring of grief.

Regardless of one’s political views, I think it is fair to call this a Canadian tragedy. Mr Layton was widely respected as a man of integrity, optimism and goodwill. His party has been responsible for some of the most cherished Canadian institutions, including pensions and universal health care. The NDP was to be a vital counterweight to the majority Conservative government in the new Parliament.

I’m not surprised that Fox News ignored his death. But the indifference of bona fide news services CNN and Al Jazeera only compounds this tragedy.

Yes, the events in Tripoli deserved top billing. But CNN had plenty of room for Ms Kardashian and endless football reports.

Here in New Zealand both TV newscasts led with bloated coverage of rugby, before moving on to the war in Libya. But that was no surprise, I’m sad to say. Some things never change.

Read Jack Layton’s remarkable letter to Canadians, written just two days before he died.

Video of Rick Mercer visiting Jack Layton at his eco-home