Canada Mourns Opposition Leader NDP leader Jack Layton died of cancer a month after stepping aside By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Suggested by AngelaMarshall Posted Aug 23, 2011 4:30 AM CDT 3 comments Comments NDP Leader Jack Layton waves to supporters at a breakfast rally in Ottawa, Ontario, Wednesday, April 13, 2011. (Associated Press) (Newser) – Jack Layton has died of cancer barely three months after leading the New Democratic Party to its strongest-ever result in Canada. The 61-year-old, who shocked the country only a few weeks ago when he announced he was stepping aside as the official opposition leader because of health issues, died yesterday of an undisclosed form of cancer and will receive a state funeral, the CBC reports. Tributes to Layton, who led the social democratic party for nine years, have poured in from across the political spectrum. After his death, Layton's family released a final letter to Canadians in which he addressed his battle with cancer and his vision for a better Canada. "To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope," he wrote. "Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer."