TORONTO - Olivia Chow says she hopes an upcoming CBC biopic about late New Democratic leader Jack Layton inspires viewers to "live in a hopeful and loving way."
Layton's widow made the remarks following an advance screening of the film "Jack" at a Toronto theatre.
Friends and dignitaries in the audience included Layton's children Mike Layton and Sarah Layton, and 2011 federal campaign team members Brad Lavigne, Karl Belanger, Brian Topp and Anne McGrath.
"Jack" traces Chow and Layton's love affair, as well as his run through Toronto municipal politics, his emergence onto the national stage, the NDP's triumphant federal election campaign and his death from cancer just weeks later.
Rick Roberts stars as Layton, while CBC Radio personality Sook-Yin Lee plays Chow.
"Jack" premieres Sunday on CBC-TV. Special pre-screenings are also planned Tuesday in Ottawa and Thursday in Winnipeg, where the film was shot.
"Now, it's a movie, so Jack and I actually didn't kiss that much," Chow said to laughter as she took the microphone after the screening, which included a racy bedroom scene.
The federal MP noted that she's often asked why she gave her blessing to the film. She said she hopes it can inspire viewers to know they have the power to make a difference.
"Life is actually quite short and temporary," said Chow, joined at the front of the theatre by about 20 cast members, family and party faithful.
"If we can seize the moment and do as much and live as full a life as we can and make a difference (that's worth knowing). And we can make a difference ... So if we could get people to get a sense that: Yes, they can make a difference, yes they can live in a hopeful and loving way and change the world or change the community, change the neighbourhood, a little bit at a time. And that's worth the movie and all of us coming together."
Co-stars at the theatre included Wendy Crewson, who played McGrath; Zachary Bennett, who portrayed Lavigne; Joel Keller, who was Belanger and Judah Katz as Topp.
McGrath said she was so excited when she learned Crewson would play her, chuckling that "she's smarter and prettier than me but she did a fantastic job."
"One of the great things that I have liked about this whole process is how much respect I think there was between the producers and director and people that were working on it to talk to us and to find out how things were," said McGrath.
"To have been involved for the period of time that we had with Jack, to have had the privilege of working with him and with all of the people that he was able to inspire and bring around to him was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"It was an awesome experience and what I love about this is that we get to relive it and remember it and it can sustain us to keep going."
Facts Of Layton's Life
As Canada prepares to remember Jack Layton on the first anniversary of his untimely death, we take a look at 11 things you may not have known about the former NDP leader.
11. Progressive Conservative Lineage
Layton's father <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Layton" target="_hplink">Robert Layton</a> (pictured at Jack's graduation from McGill in 1971) was a Progressive Conservative MP and served as Minister of State for Mines in Brian Mulroney's cabinet from 1984-1986. Robert started out as a member of the Liberal Party, but shifted to the PCs in the 1980s. Layton's grandfather, Gilbert Layton, was a Union Nationale MNA in Quebec. The Union Nationale was a conservative party. He served as a minister in Maurice Duplessis' government before resigning in 1939 over its opposition to conscription for the Second World War.
10. Descendent Of A Father Of Confederation
<a href="http://boards.ancestry.com/thread.aspx?mv=flat&m=597&p=localities.northam.canada.newbrunswick.albert" target="_hplink">Layton's Mother Doris Elizabeth (Steeves) was a grand-niece of a Father of Confederation, William Steeves</a>.
9. He Was A Frat Boy
<a href="http://sigmachi.ca/en/news-articles/statement-sigma-chi-re-passing-brother-hon-jack-layton/" target="_hplink">Layton joined the Sigma Chi fraternity</a> while studying at McGill. Here he is seen in a photo from his high-school years.
8. He Was A Doctor
<a href="http://www.yorku.ca/yfile/archive/index.asp?Article=17461" target="_hplink">Layton got his PhD in political science from York University in 1983</a>. He got his MA in political science from York and his BA from McGill.
7. He Married Young
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Layton" target="_hplink">Layton married Sally Halford</a>, his high-school sweetheart, when he was 19. They had two children together, Mike and Sarah. The couple divorced in 1983 after 14 years of marriage.
6. Olivia Chow's Mother Didn't Like Him
<a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1043197--jack-and-olivia-love-at-first-sight" target="_hplink">When he first began dating Olivia Chow, her mother was not a fan</a>. He wasn't a doctor or lawyer and he wasn't Chinese. A language mistake helped win him her approval. After having dinner at the Chow home, Layton attempted to thank his girlfriend's mother for the food. A mistake in tone led him to say "thank you for the good sex" in Cantonese, according to the <em>Toronto Star</em>. The exchange resulted in laughter that began a thawing of relations between Layton and Chow's family.
5. He Was A Trekkie
<a href="http://thestar.blogs.com/politics/2009/05/where-no-ndp-leader-has-gone-before.html" target="_hplink">Layton and Chow were big fans of Star Trek</a>, even having custom uniforms made, according to the <em>Toronto Star</em>.
4. He Was Against The Skydome...
<a href="http://www.cbc.ca/archives/discover/guess-who/jack-layton-city-halls-tired-but-victorious-warrior.html" target="_hplink">Layton was against public financing for the building of the Skydome</a> (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto. <a href="http://torontoist.com/2011/08/councillor_jack_layton/" target="_hplink">He later called for an inquiry</a> into the debt that resulted from the project. Layton, then a Toronto city councillor, is seen here in 1989.
3. And The Olympics
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Layton" target="_hplink">Layton fought against Toronto's bid for the 1996 Olympic Games</a>. The bid failed. His opposition was widely viewed as contributing to his defeat in a run for the Toronto mayoralty in 1991.
2. He Was A Pirate?
During the 2008 election campaign, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgJuzfoNAkg" target="_hplink">Layton credited torrents, a form of peer-to-peer sharing, with helping make democracy work</a>. He also criticized the throttling used by many Internet service providers to slow peer-to-peer traffic, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/16/traffic-throttling-bell-rogers_n_1791718.html" target="_hplink">an issue that's still very much in the news today</a>.
1. Third Time's A Charm
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Layton" target="_hplink">Layton lost two federal races before being elected to the House of Commons</a>. He lost in Toronto's Rosedale riding in 1993 and in the riding of Danforth in 1997. He eventually won that Danforth seat in the 2004 general election, more than a year after becoming leader of the NDP. He would go on to lead the NDP to Official Opposition status amid the 'Orange Wave' of 2011. He died a little more than three months after the election on August 22, 2011.