Posted by Joanna Smith, Ottawa Bureau
It has become a tradition on the New Democrat campaign plane for Jack Layton to bring his acoustic guitar to the back of the plane and lead a sing-along with the media. So, on our flight from Halifax back to Ottawa on Saturday evening, staffers passed around the Pete Seeger song books and we all crowded into a few seats to join Layton for some rousing (but not so beautifully sung) renditions of classics chosen by the media flipping through the book.
We began with Barrett's Privateers by Stan Rogers, which only made sense given one of the lines in the chorus is about a "broken man on a Halifax pier". We followed it up with "Molly Malone" (also known as "Cockles and Mussels" or "In Dublin's Fair City"), at the request of CBC's Rosemary Barton, who said it is her mother's favourite song. We also sang "Downtown" by Petula Clark and Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay".
Layton said he's been playing guitar since high school (the first song he ever learned the chords to was "She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain") and he remembers strumming in the cafeteria at Hudson High School while one fellow student named Larry Smith played the piano.
Smith, as many of you already know, became a football player, president of the Montreal Alouettes, publisher of the Gazette and was then appointed a Conservative senator by Stephen Harper. Smith is now running in the riding of Lac-Saint-Louis on the West Island of Montreal, hoping to unseat Liberal incumbent Francis Scarpaleggia.