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Family, friends, colleagues pay tribute to federal NDP Leader Jack Layton

"Collectively, Canadian hearts are breaking."

Just hours after his death, tributes to the late Jack Layton are pouring in.

The Canadian Press has the story:

OTTAWA _ Some quotes on federal NDP Leader Jack Layton, who died Monday at the age of 61:

"We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones.'' -- Statement from wife Olivia Chow and children, Sarah and Michael.

"On behalf of all Canadians, I salute Jack's contribution to public life, a contribution that will be sorely missed. I know one thing: Jack gave his fight against cancer everything he had. Indeed, Jack never backed down from any fight.'' -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"When I last spoke with Jack following his announcement in July, I wished him well and he told me he'd be seeing me in the House of Commons in the fall. This, sadly, will no longer come to pass. On behalf of all Canadians, I salute Jack's contribution to public life, a contribution that will be sorely missed.'' -- Harper.

"I learned with great sadness we just lost Jack Layton. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.'' -- Tweet from Gov. Gen. David Johnston.

"Throughout his career as a community leader and politician, he constantly strived to bring people together in the common cause of building a better Canada, and he did so with great energy and commitment. His fundamental decency and his love of our country serve as examples to us all, and he will be greatly missed.'' -- Johnston, in a formal statement from Rideau Hall.

"It was his leadership that inspired me, and so many others, to run for office. We -- mmembers of Parliament, New Democrats and Canadians -- need to pull together now and carry on his fight to make this country a better place.'' -- Nycole Turmel, the rookie Quebec MP and veteran labour leader who stepped in as interim NDP leader when Layton took a leave of absence last month.

"We remember the Tommy Douglas quote Jack included in every email he sent: 'Courage my friends, `tis never too late to build a better world'.'' -- Turmel.

"It's a very big loss for the NDP and it's a big loss for Canada. He was a very good politician, he loved the profession of being in politics.'' -- Former prime minister Jean Chretien.

"No one is irreplaceable, but he is about as close as they come.'' -- Former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

"My condolences go to Olivia and to his family and to all who loved him, which included millions and millions of Canadians, as the last election showed. As you saw in the last election, people saw Jack as literally their friend in Ottawa.'' -- Alexa McDonough, Layton's immediate predecessor as party leader.

"Canada has lost a great politician . . . I've lost a personal friend. He wanted to do things. Whatever the issue that was dear to the lives of ordinary Canadians, Jack had the sense of a doer about him.'' -- Ed Broadbent, former NDP leader.

"I am deeply saddened by the untimely death of Jack Layton. Collectively, Canadian hearts are breaking. Jack will always be remembered for his unfailing love of Canada and his dedication to this country and its citizens.'' -- Green party Leader Elizabeth May.

"I will never forget the image of Jack campaigning as the happy warrior. His energy, enthusiasm and passion for politics and for the Canadian people were undeniable. Something I will never forget. A standard for all of us.'' -- David Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Canada.

"Despite our political differences, his decency, good humour and extraordinary resilience earned our deep admiration. We remained friends throughout our political lives.'' -- Liberal Leader Bob Rae, one-time NDP premier of Ontario.

"Thank you all for your kind messages and support.'' -- Son Michael Layton on Twitter.

"We talked about the future.'' -- Anne McGrath, Layton's chief of staff and longtime confidant, on her last meeting with him on Saturday.

"Jack Layton taught Canadians a new kind of politics. He inspired a generation of voters with his principles of compassion, fairness and equality. He set an example. He brought us together.'' _ Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

"Our sympathies to the family of Hon. Jack Layton on the sad news of his passing. He was a great friend to municipal world & will be missed.'' -- Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson in a tweet.

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