By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 5, 2013 - 0 Comments
There is nothing else on television that compares with politics. Nothing in sports or entertainment comes near to matching the humanity, ego, power, celebration and conflict of it. As drama, it is perfect. Not only because there is so much at stake for society, but because there is so much at stake for the principal participants. How we govern ourselves is both our most fundamental construct and our greatest spectacle.
The latest attempt to make a film of this real show is Jack, a fine rendering of Jack Layton’s life, love, last campaign and final days. As much as can be conveyed in 88 minutes about a life spent practicing politics is neatly laid out. Rick Roberts does an admirable and impressive job in the title role, particularly in his grasp of Mr. Layton’s inherent goofiness. Sook-Yin Lee is quite good as Olivia Chow. Mr. Layton’s faithful aides—Brian Topp, Brad Lavigne, Anne McGrath and Karl Belanger—are well drawn. (Although it’s easy to quibble with the depictions of people you’ve actually met and spoken with at length—Brian Topp is more interesting a personality than is shown here—I’ll say that there is some real semblance of them on the screen.)
There seem to be some concessions made to dramatization—the Ottawa bar where New Democrats tend to hangout isn’t quite as nice and spacious as depicted—but the essence of Jack Layton is there. In some cases explicitly. After Mr. Layton’s defeat in Toronto’s 1991 mayoral election, he is consoled by Ms. Chow, who hugs him and says, “It’s not personal, Jack. It’s politics.” Mr. Layton quickly corrects her. “No, no, no, it is personal,” he says. “Win or lose, it has to be.” Later, in the hospital, dying from cancer, he explains to an admiring nurse that politics is just a trade like any other. I don’t know whether those conversations happened precisely as portrayed, but they might as well have. Jack Layton was thoroughly and entirely a politician. And so here is a movie about a politician.
Is it perhaps too soon for a movie about Jack Layton? It might feel that way. Pierre Trudeau was dead two years and it had been 18 years since he last held office when the CBC portrayed him in a miniseries. John A. Macdonald had been dead for 120 years when the CBC gave him a movie. For the most part, a certain period of time must pass before we feel it safe to pay tribute to a politician. They are not to be admired until we feel we can do so without thinking about all of the things we thought were silly and despicable about them. It has only been a year and a half since Mr. Layton passed and he had only just stepped away from politics. But then his passing was remarkable in that it showed we were still able to admire and respect a politician. And not just a politician, but a man who was so completely political. So perhaps here we should allow ourselves to appreciate a politician we knew so recently, even if everything about our evolutionary cynicism tells us not to.
For sure, there is much to appreciate: good causes and important efforts and, over the course of a lifetime, a commitment to the practice of politics. There are no doubt aspects of representative democracy that are grubby and selfish, but then such is life. Politics may not be noble, but it is important. We should not naturally despise it. Or, if we do, we should we still hope to find some good. Jack Layton did some good and found some success as well. Even if some of the appreciation of his life is a result of the tragedy of his death, he is still possibly one of the this country’s great politicians. Or at least one of this country’s great political stories. And in his life are reasons to see the good that can be (and is) in politics.
There are a few moments that might seem hokey—and, yes, not one, but two appearances of Parachute Club’s Rise Up—but the film is not too overly earnest. It is, of course, a bit odd to see an acted account of events you (in this case, me) actually witnessed. Admittedly, I enjoyed a privileged seat for that particular show. The scrum at which Mr. Layton announced he would not support the budget was, if memory serves, approximately twice as crowded as the movie depicts—Mr. Layton looking pale and hobbling to a lectern that was swarmed by reporters. The first week of the NDP campaign was as dismal as the movie suggests—in reality, the quibbles from reporters over the size of the crowd in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia resulted in a rare public flash of anger from Mr. Layton.
It is easy to forget now, but for a brief moment in the late stages of that campaign, it was possible to believe that Jack Layton might become the next prime minister of Canada. And it is important to remember how truly preposterous it all was. Even after the NDP surge seemed to level-off in the final days, there was something surreal about that final stretch: everything Mr. Layton had spent the previous eight years talking about while the rest of us scoffed seemed suddenly to be happening. And Ruth Ellen Brosseau was about to become an MP. The film skips entirely the final weekend, including the report from Sun News of a massage Mr. Layton received 15 years earlier that seemed momentarily to imperil everything, but also the heady bus ride from Montreal to Toronto on the last day, when the crowds that greeted him made it obvious something was going on and he and Ms. Chow kissed upon his arrival in Toronto. The campaign officially ended in a packed gymnasium in Scarborough. The next day, that riding, where a New Democrat had never finished better than third, went to the NDP by 5,000 votes. To watch the returns come in that night was to laugh—I believe I might have—at how much orange there suddenly was on the map. It was an incredible show to behold.
Less than four months later, Mr. Layton was dead. That was tragedy. And the outpouring that greeted his death was redeeming. And it could all easily be described as cinematic. But then it was all something like real life.
For more on Jack Layton’s life and death, see Maclean’s on Jack Layton featuring our best stories covering the former NDP leader’s remarkable decade on the Hill. This collection of in-depth profiles and short features delivers a portrait of the man. There’s also a behind-the-scene’s look at the crafting of Layton’s last letter to Canadians, and the influence it had on the nation. Olivia Chow also shares her thoughts on what inspired her late husband.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, August 23, 2012 at 11:53 AM - 0 Comments
The square in front of Toronto’s city hall was packed for Dear Jack, a tribute to the late NDP leader
The square in front of Toronto’s city hall was packed for Dear Jack, a tribute to mark the one-year anniversary of NDP leader Jack Layton’s death.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 1, 2012 at 3:57 PM - 0 Comments
Brad Lavigne, a key advisor to Jack Layton, maps out the NDP’s climb from also-ran to official opposition.
This next tier of NDP voter shared three key things in common with our base: they had a deep mistrust of Harper; they did not like Michael Ignatieff, even though they
were primarily Liberals; and they liked Jack. More than anything, these folks were looking for someone in Ottawa they could trust. With Jack scoring well personally, the common denominators of leadership and trust fit in well with our leader-focused branding of the party.
They also saw Parliament, mired in partisan sniping, as a distant and dysfunctional entity that wasn’t getting things done for them, even as health care was suffering, there was a jobs and pension crisis, and life was becoming less and less affordable. The next election was an opportunity to seize on this sentiment. At the heart of what was wrong with Ottawa were the very players who were responsible for the deterioration. In other words, the status quo was responsible for the dysfunction. This positioning allowed us to answer the question of who we were running against in the campaign. If we could successfully make the case that the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Bloc were the reason Ottawa was broken, we could paint them as the problem and us as the solution.
Here is John Geddes’ look at the NDP’s 2011 campaign. Here is my dispatch from the first week of that election. And here is what I wrote during the first week of the 2008 campaign, when Jack Layton announced his intention to be prime minister.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 1:26 PM - 0 Comments
In this week’s print edition, I write about the budget bill and its various ramifications.
“The best thing for government is a budget that goes through unnoticed and unreported. And the worst thing is when a budget lingers,” says Brad Lavigne, a former adviser to Jack Layton, the late NDP leader. “Every day the NDP can keep the budget and what they’re trying to ram through, the policy changes in the budget bill, every day that they can keep that in the news, in front of Canadians, is a good day for the Opposition and a bad day for the government.” The public’s interest in parliamentary principles is demonstrably limited—after the Conservatives were found in contempt of Parliament last year, the electorate punished them with a majority—but issues like environmental regulation and employment insurance might play to the NDP’s goals of courting the 60 per cent of Canadians who aren’t inclined to vote for the Conservatives. “If Thomas Mulcair and the team are fighting for those issues, then those people will look to the NDP to be the non-Conservative alternative,” Lavigne says.
The budget bill is officially called the “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act” and on those terms the Conservatives are likely willing to continue debating. The most controversial aspects of the bill, those related to environmental assessment and resource development, might provide an opening for the NDP, but it might also set up an economic debate of the sort the Conservatives are willing to have. “I think the key debate is actually one that’s going to continue from now until the election, which is, what are we going to do about our energy resources here in Canada?” says Jason Lietaer, a Conservative strategist. “Are we going to use them and try to use them to be prosperous? Or are we going to take a different approach?”
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 1:29 PM - 0 Comments
Brad Lavigne, principal secretary in Nycole Turmel’s office, former director of the NDP and a close advisor to Jack Layton, tendered his resignation with Ms. Turmel two weeks ago and will be moving on after 10 years with the federal party.
Meanwhile, Thomas Mulcair has announced that veteran MP Libby Davies will be one of his two deputy leaders, continuing in a post she currently occupies and was appointed to by Mr. Layton. Ms. Davies supported Brian Topp in the party leadership race.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 5:43 PM - 0 Comments
Brad Lavigne, principal secretary to NDP leader Nycole Turmel, has spoken with reporters to explain what occurred this afternoon.
I would describe it as somebody outside the system was attempting to mess up with our system … The system has not been compromised. The only thing that has taken place has been that they’ve delayed, they’ve jammed up the lines, they’ve occupied the space that the company was creating for our membership.
Let me be absolutely clear, the system was not hacked. It was never even close to being hacked … The only thing we that we know is that the delays that were being caused were caused by those outside of the system who were attempting to mess with our system…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 28, 2011 at 12:43 PM - 15 Comments
The NDP buys billboard space to attack the elimination of the long-gun registry.
The NDP message will be reinforced with the barrel of a gun. The image of a Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic, a “non-restricted” weapon which won’t have to be registered when the long-gun registry is scrapped, sits above the tag-line “No More Safeguards. Is that why you voted Conservative?” … The three cities chosen for the billboards are notable because they are all areas where the NDP made new inroads in the 2011 election. One of the key target audiences is Conservative ridings in Toronto, but it is intended to reach a broader spectrum – and two of the target cities are in Quebec, where the NDP have new-found strength, and where support for the registry is high.
Talking to Althia Raj, Brad Lavigne explains the NDP’s mindset.
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 4:49 AM - 151 Comments
[Olivia Chow] won’t reveal the nature of [Jack Layton’s] final illness: “Jack’s wish is that we don’t talk precisely about what kind because we want to give other cancer patients the kind of hope they deserve and should have. If we talk about this kind of cancer, or that, then if you have that particular kind, you would be really worried…” –The Star, Tuesday
Pardon me, fellow Canadians, but this is preposterous. Olivia Chow’s explanation doesn’t even make sense on its own terms: in the absence of information about what kind of cancer killed Jack Layton, patients with any kind of cancer at all might be frightened or upset by his sudden demise. She is denying us information that could ease the minds of the vast majority of these people. But then, this isn’t the first time we’ve been given a strained, unconvincing excuse for secrecy when it comes to Jack Layton’s health, though it is likely to be the last.
When Jack Layton was first diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, his secretary Brad Lavigne told Canadians that we would not be receiving details of Layton’s treatment because, basically, we are too stupid to handle it. Cancer sufferers, Lavigne argued, might perceive such a disclosure “as general medical advice” and conclude that the same therapies “might be suitable for them.” This was an amazingly brazen answer in an era in which “awareness” is worshipped like a tiki. Jack Layton might have been the first cancer victim in decades who believed that his disease did not provide him with a morally binding opportunity to educate others—that, in fact, his duty was to conceal. The question nobody asked: what if there were prostate cancer patients who might learn, by means of Layton’s example, of a treatment that was truly “suitable”?
Instead, Lavigne’s bizarre rationale was accepted, and questions about Layton’s later hip fracture were shrugged off, even though Canadians have abundant, well-founded reasons to suspect politicians, as a group, of habitually queue-jumping and seeking private care outside the country. The NDP cannot shut up about how Tommy Douglas gave us medicare like some cornball Prometheus bringing fire unto primeval man; its leaders therefore might be regarded as having a special responsibility to rise above such suspicions.
This would be the case even if Layton hadn’t availed himself controversially of private clinics in the past, and it would be the case even if it weren’t for the mysterious affair of April’s disappearing “hip replacement”, when we were all asked to believe that Layton’s sister, who was travelling with him and essentially acting his physical therapist, got an exceedingly rudimentary detail of his treatment wrong. Could happen! It would have been awfully simple for him to confirm it with medical evidence!—he said so himself, and offered to provide that evidence!
But by that time, no one in a position to ask was interested: the adversarial relationship between politician and media had already broken down. It has been pointed out incessantly in defence of Layton’s privacy that Canada, unlike the U.S., has not established a full-disclosure norm in health matters for important politicians. What nobody observes is that the U.S. adopted this norm for very good reasons—reasons with labels like Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy. Long experience of republican government has taught Americans that politicians will tell merciless, outrageous lies about their health status to secure electoral advantage unless a full-disclosure norm is aggressively enforced by the press.
Jack Layton, of course, was never the chief magistrate of a republic—just a man who claimed to be running for our prime ministership in earnest, and, later, a officer of state with responsibility for assembling and leading an alternative government. Still, eventually Canada will, like the U.S., begin to oblige men in his position to be excruciatingly forthright about their health. And eventually someone will spill the beans about what killed him. In the meantime, 4.5 million Canadians who voted for a party led by Jack Layton will just have to wait and see what they actually end up with.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 9:15 AM - 8 Comments
A sense of solidarity unites the NDP caucus
After Jack Layton had departed Parliament Hill for the final time last week, his flag-draped casket loaded into a waiting hearse and driven away as a large crowd applauded, those NDP MPs who had gathered to see him off fanned out to greet and thank the well-wishers and mourners. “What I kept on saying to people over and over again,” says Libby Davies, one of Layton’s two deputy leaders, “without even thinking, it was just instinct, was, ‘Don’t worry, we’re going to keep working.’ ”
While they mourned their leader, New Democrats could hardly ignore the many questions left in his absence: about their viability, direction and meaning as a party without the man who seemed to define them. But if, in the wake of Layton’s passing, there was a certain fear for the future of the NDP—raised by any number of pundits who now deem the party doomed—New Democrats themselves claim only resolve.
“There isn’t any fear of the future in the caucus—from the new members through the experienced ones,” says Joe Comartin, the veteran MP from Windsor. “And in fact, I’ll say there is some resentment to the pundits and commentators who are tending to write us off. I think there’s a bit of a level of resentment because of that determination, because Jack wouldn’t let us not carry on. So we’re going to carry on.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 8, 2011 at 11:52 AM - 0 Comments
From this week’s print edition, a behind-the-scenes look at Jack Layton’s announcement last month.
The story is primarily based on interviews with Mr. Layton’s chief of staff Anne McGrath, his press secretary Karl Belanger, his principal secretary Brad Lavigne and MPs Libby Davies, Thomas Mulcair, Joe Comartin and Paul Dewar. Martin Patriquin, our man in Montreal, spoke to Nycole Turmel (note: that conversation took place before her membership in the Bloc Quebecois and Quebec Solidaire were reported). Cathy Gulli in Toronto sought out medical advice. The result is something like 3,000 words that hopefully shed light on the month leading up to Mr. Layton’s announcement and the immediate aftermath.
By Aaron Wherry, Cathy Gulli, and Martin Patriquin - Monday, August 8, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 132 Comments
His confidants and caucus colleagues recount the difficult days before and after his shocking announcement
Jack Layton died after a months-long battle with cancer in the early morning hours of August 22, 2011. He was 61. Below is Maclean’s cover story on the charismatic NDP leader, originally published on August 4, 2011. To read Maclean’s definitive profile of Jack Layton’s life in politics, click here.
He had started complaining of pain and stiffness in late June. He was perspiring a lot, and found it hard to stand for long periods of time. His chief of staff, Anne McGrath, who first worked with Jack Layton when he ran for the NDP leadership nine years ago, thought maybe he’d over-compensated for his surgically repaired left hip and injured the right one. She wanted him to take the summer off anyway. It would have been a deserved respite after a remarkable 18 months that began with a diagnosis of prostate cancer and climaxed with him hobbling to an unprecedented election result.
Tests were scheduled. But then he also started losing weight. McGrath prepared herself to find out what was happening on July 25, when a significant test was to take place, but that test was moved up five days. With those results came a diagnosis and on the evening of Wednesday, July 20, two days after his 61st birthday, Layton called McGrath to tell her it was cancer. “He’s so upbeat,” she says. “He really is. It’s so funny. I don’t get it sometimes myself.”
He told her to tell him that she was going to keep working. “ ‘We started this journey together…and look at how far we’ve come and look what we’ve done,’ ” she recalls him saying. “And he starts going through the things that we’ve been through and everything. He says, ‘And we’ve got more to do.’ He was talking to me about fundraising, about increasing the party’s membership. This is on Wednesday night, you know?”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 9:15 AM - 8 Comments
Joanna Smith looks at the advisors that have surrounded Jack Layton over the last nine years.
That vision, from the beginning, was called “The Project”, says Brad Lavigne, who is now principal secretary to Layton after having served in a number of senior positions. Nine years ago, Lavigne was part of a team that set out to make Layton leader of the federal New Democrats, meeting in his Toronto kitchen on evenings and weekends one summer to reach out to contacts nationwide.
“That was the code name for transforming the party into a modern party with broad support, where we would build the infrastructure of the party so that it could compete and eventually beat the main parties,” says Lavigne. “We understood at the time that this would be a long game. We would realize success if we were to see this as a long-term project and not one that would come within a year or within an election or even two elections, that it would take much more time, and seeing that project through is something that drives me.”
There is a parallel to be drawn here between Mr. Layton’s rise and that of Stephen Harper: think of the roles played by Doug Finley, Patrick Muttart and Ian Brodie and the similar objectives. Even if the formal line-up in the Prime Minister’s Office has understandably changed over the last five years, there remain individuals like Ray Novak and Jenni Byrne, who have served alongside Mr. Harper for years.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 25, 2011 at 2:11 PM - 11 Comments
(This post last updated at 6:38pm.)
Looking gaunt and sounding hoarse, Jack Layton has told a Toronto news conference that while his fight with prostate cancer is going well, he is now dealing with a new cancer and will be taking a temporary leave from politics. He says he intends to return when Parliament resumes in the fall. In his place, he is recommending that Nycole Turmel serve as interim leader of the NDP caucus.
2:13pm… The official announcement is here.
If I have tried to bring anything to federal politics, it is the idea that hope and optimism should be at their heart. We CAN look after each other better than we do today. We CAN have a fiscally responsible government. We CAN have a strong economy; greater equality; a clean environment. We CAN be a force for peace in the world.
I am as hopeful and optimistic about all of this as I was the day I began my political work, many years ago. I am hopeful and optimistic about the personal battle that lies before me in the weeks to come. And I am very hopeful and optimistic that our party will continue to move forward.
We WILL replace the Conservative government, a few short years from now. And we WILL work with Canadians to build the country of our hopes Of our dreams. Of our optimism. Of our determination. Of our values… Of our love.
2:18pm… NDP president Brian Topp says the NDP caucus will meet Wednesday morning to consider Mr. Layton’s suggestion and who will lead the party until his return. Advice from the caucus will then be reported to the party’s federal council and then the council will choose the leader. Mr. Topp says Mr. Layton was in hospital for a period of time, but has no details on what his coming treatment will involve. “I wouldn’t bet against Jack Layton,” Mr. Topp says. Mr. Topp wrote about his own battle with prostate cancer last year.
2:36pm… Video of Mr. Layton’s announcement is available here.
2:46pm… The NDP has set up an online form for Canadians to send get well messages to Mr. Layton.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, July 8, 2011 at 8:32 PM - 0 Comments
The media mingled with NDP MPs at the garden party at Stornoway NDP MP…
The media mingled with NDP MPs at the garden party at Stornoway NDP MP Olivia Chow shows off a white chocolate Jack Layton moustache.
(L to R) NDP leader Jack Layton, MP Jack Harris and Doris Layton (Jack’s mom).
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 1:53 PM - 3 Comments
Brad Lavigne, the NDP’s executive director, last week. “If a leader loses momentum [Monday], they’ll have a hard time gaining it back before the budget gets tabled in February.”
Jack Layton, asked about Lavigne’s assessment yesterday. “Well, I think when you look at by-elections, they do have these very unique characteristics. I mean, who would have predicted that the NDP would have gone up in votes in Dauphin? But yet, that is what happened and the Liberals went down. So is there some kind of trend in the west as some have suggested? I don’t really think you can find much of a trend line in these results and you know, we have done our share in by-election victories. We won one, each of the opposition party has won one out of seven since this Parliament started and we are just going to keep at it.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:02 PM - 118 Comments
You are looking live… at your computer, where, if you so desire, by-election results for Vaughan, Winnipeg-North and Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette will be posted gradually after polls close at 9:30pm EST.
Elections Canada results will appear here. Wikipedia profiles for the respective ridings are available here, here and here. 308′s election day projections have the Tories taking Vaughan, the NDP holding Winnipeg and the Tories holding Dauphin. Vaughan will be your narrative-defining contest of the evening.
For however long as seems necessary, I’ll be here with updates, tangents and the like. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below and I’ll try to offer snappy or thoughtful responses as time warrants. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 3, 2010 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
The Star suggests at least some of the NDP dozen may avoid a vote on Bill C-391 this fall.
The about-face is driven in part by tactics the Conservative government is employing as it tries to build support for killing the registry. One Conservative MP has accused Canada’s police chiefs of plotting to use the registry to seize Canadians’ rifles and shotguns.
“You’ve got the Conservatives turning off our rural guys,” said Brad Lavigne, national director of the NDP. He added that two “very real options” are available to rural members — stay away or reverse their earlier support for the Conservative bill.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, December 24, 2009 at 12:11 PM - 5 Comments
MP Nathan Cullen (right) and MP Glenn Thibeault… with half moustaches.
MP Nathan Cullen (right) and MP Glenn Thibeault with half moustaches.
MP Don Davies attempts to impersonate Chantal Hébert of the Toronto Star.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 28, 2009 at 1:26 PM - 9 Comments
I try again to explain Jack Layton.
This seemed a terrible day for the leader of the NDP. But if you were thinking Jack Layton had just turned himself inside out, that the unrelenting opponent of this government had just debased himself for the purposes of political expediency, you would be wrong. At least so says the NDP.
“Canadians are fair-minded and want their politicians to use common sense,” Brad Lavigne, the party’s national director, said over coffee a few hours after the vote. “And what you’ve seen is probably Jack Layton’s best week of his leadership.”
Really? “Absolutely,” Lavigne conﬁrmed. “I’d say it’s one of his best weeks by far. In terms of seizing the opportunity, sticking to the principles, recognizing that it actually takes strength to get things for the people that sent us here. I think what Jack Layton has done this week is give a voice to the millions of Canadians who want to see this Parliament work and don’t want to go to an election.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 10:30 PM - 61 Comments
December 12. The Liberals “have made a commitment to the coalition to get the economy on the right track for Canadian families,” NDP Leader Jack Layton said in a prepared statement. That commitment included Ignatieff’s signature on a piece of paper, Layton said. ”Every Liberal and New Democrat member of Parliament has signed a letter to Her Excellency the Governor General stating that they collectively and individually lost confidence in the government and were committed to governing together.”
December 17. Yesterday, Layton said he met Ignatieff and had a good discussion. “The coalition continues as a very significant presence in the debate that’s taking place now.” On a lighter note, asked whether he has a Christmas present for Ignatieff, Layton said he’ll probably frame the coalition agreement and give it to him.
Tonight. NDP National Director Brad Lavigne set the stage for an election war for the left with the Liberals by suggesting Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was into torture, into Iraq and out of the country … “Mr. Layton has written a book about investing in Canadians and their communities. Mr. Ignatieff has written books defending torture,” said Lavigne. “Mr. Ignatieff has defended and supported the war in Iraq … If Mr. Ignatieff or Mr. Harper were prime minister in 2004, Canada would still be in Iraq today.”