Meet A Mayoral Candidate — Part VI

It’s the last Friday in March so we are going out like a lion with our next installment of Meet A Mayoral Candidate!

This week: Kevin Clarke For Mayor.

For those who’ve been following politics on the local scene here in Toronto over the last 15 years or so, you’re probably familiar with Kevin Clarke. He’s been running for office at every level of government since the mid-90s. 2010 is his 4th stab at becoming mayor of the city.

Is he any more likely to secure the job this time around? Hardly, but that’s not the point. More than any other candidate that we’ve profiled so far, Mr. Clarke is running on what might be called a one issue platform. Although it is a Hydra-like multi-headed, nasty-assed one issue to be sure that is best (or worst) summed up in one word: poverty.

In its simplest form, Kevin Clarke is an advocate for the homeless but his presence in the race is representative of so much more than that. He gives voice to the voiceless; those who have the least stake in the political proceedings and yet who suffer the most dire consequences from the choices that are made. His candidacy seeks to make concrete what many of us only see and deal with in the abstract.

At least, that’s the hope. The reality’s a little more complicated. There are times when Mr. Clarke’s advocacy for the down-and-out of our society comes across as merely political stunting, antics that make him and his fight seem even less relevant. Does getting forcibly removed from a candidates’ debate as he has been help or hinder the cause? Watching some of the impressive amount of footage that exists of Kevin Clarke – he’s even the subject of a recent documentary, Man on a Mission – it’s hard not to think that he`s as much of a self-promoter as he is an activist for the homeless.

Even his biography smacks of a certain manufactured quality. He’s a school teacher turned businessman in the auto sector who wound up spending some 7 years on the streets. So well spoken it strikes you as impossible that this guy couldn’t get his act together and pull himself up and back into being a contributing member of society again. If Kevin Clarke is so hard done by, how does he keep coming up with the $200 needed to run for mayor of the city?

It is at this point that you realize just how firmly ingrained our biases are toward the homeless, the destitute and the sea of misfortune that exists all around us. When forced to face it as we are when someone like Kevin Clarke is on the campaign trail, our shittiest instincts can be revealed. That default switch we’ve developed in order to deal with seemingly intractable social problems: it’s their fault not ours.

Whatever actually motivates him, it`s good that Kevin Clarke’s back at it this time round especially given the heavy tilt to the right that the campaign’s endured so far. The fight`s been almost exclusively about the numbers. Who`s going to cut and save more of them. Who`s going to spend less. Kevin Clarke is in the race to put a human face to those numbers.  Answering our insipid question we`ve posing to all the mayoral candidates, If the present mayor would like his legacy to be that of the Transit Mayor, how would a Mayor Clarke like to see his legacy written?, we put the words into Kevin Clarke’s mouth. A Mayor Kevin Clarke would make Toronto a better place for all.

— dutifully submitted by Cityslikr

A Retraction

The truth needs to be revealed now that not all of us contributors here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke agreed with the February 12th post, slagging the Vancouver Olympics. There were those of us who argued vehemently to have our contrarian voices heard; that, in fact, what was being expressed was from the mindset of a perpetual Olympic also-ran. That this time it would be different. But ultimately our views were quashed upon the rocks of an unsound editorial decision.

In hindsight, we should’ve protested the slight by not writing anything during the 17 days of Olympic glory.

And how glorious it was!

Today, as the sun rises on a new Canada, we are a people who have finally tasted true athletic triumph. And we likeee! Gone forever are the what ifs and near misses. No more are we grumpily content with a pat on the back for merely trying hard and doing our best.

No, we did not Own the Podium™®© as organizers had originally predicted. We were out medaled by the U.S. and Germans. But we bested the hated Americans where it really counted: on the ice of a hockey arena. Twice. And as the Games unfolded, the message changed. We became Owners of the Top of the Podium®™©. Gold was all that mattered. Silver and bronze equaled nothing short of failure.

In smashing gold medal haul records as host country and overall in terms of the Winter Olympics, we proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Canada is the greatest northern country that the world has ever seen. Up yours, former Soviet Union! We did it legitimately without having to subjugate other countries and peoples to pad our athlete ranks. Granted, there may’ve been a little subjugation of First Peoples but that was a long time ago and we allowed them to dress up in their native garb and gave them a spot in the VIP box right behind the Prime Minister. Can you say the same, former Soviet Union? Norway?

So monumental was Canada’s victory in the 2010 Olympics that it gave pause to this normally non-Believer in a Higher Being. Maybe, just maybe, there is a God after all. A beneficent, magnanimous God who finally turned His All Knowing, All Seeing Gaze down upon Canada and bestowed Heavenly Excellence onto us. How else to explain the stupendous turn around in our Olympic fortunes? Coincidence?

Sure, there are those nay saying wet blankets who will suggest that this inspired achievement by our Olympic athletes was simply the logical outcome of us throwing money at them. But that makes no sense whatsoever. If solving problems was as easy as throwing money at it, why wouldn’t we be throwing money at all our problems? The environment. Homelessness. Child poverty. If all this could be dealt with merely by waving around the magic wand of money, don’t you think our governments would’ve done that by now?


But this is not a time for such cold-hearted analysis and explanations. Now is the time for celebration. Now, we dance.

We’re # 1! We’re # 1! We’re # 1!

patriotically submitted by Urban Sophisticat

If It’s 2010 The Olympics Must Be On Somewhere

But where?

As of now, this here is officially an Olympic no-go zone.

If you’re dropping by to get updated medal counts or the skinny on if there’s snow up on Sugar Mountain or wherever, don’t. We could care less and realize now with horror that we should’ve booked the next 2 weeks in someplace warm with an affinity more for dengue than Olympic fever. So loath are we of the whole shooting match that we have come to detest the normally soothing velvety tones of Canadian actor Donald Sutherland, due to his ubiquitous voice over plugs of CTV’s Olympic coverage. What is with you and Dirty Sexy Money, Donald?

And no, we are not petulant, bitter Torontonians who have looked on helplessly as the Olympic fairy has touched down 3 times now in Canada without ever alighting upon our humble burg. After the public fleecing and bequeathing of monstrously useless behemoths like the Big O on Montreal in 1976, we should’ve learned a valuable lesson and taken a pass on any further buggerings. Thanks but no thanks. From here on in, how be we just send a contingent of passable contestants and watch the proceedings on TV. Is what we should’ve said.

Instead we are all aflutter over hosting what has to be the biggest corporate clusterfuck after free trade, globalization and neoliberal economic theory. (Boo-yeah!!) It is simply faux patriotism; more benign than war but still mindless in its own right. How be instead of measuring the worth of our country in terms of its gold medal haul, we take pride in being the greenest country in the world? Or having the fewest people living below the poverty line? Or the fewest people dying homeless in the street? Or having the best educated high schoolers the world has ever known!?

But what about the athletes who have been training so hard? Hey. We all make choices what to do with our lives, and if you choose to spend your time hurtling down an ice chute at 4000 k an hour, my hat’s off to you. I don’t think we should be spending too much of our tax money so that you can do it faster than anyone else in the world. No, you aren’t that much of an inspiration to our youth. You are an inspiration to our videogame makers who will create virtual simulations of your sport for our youth to “experience” the thrill of from the safety of their couches without the fear of suffering massive head trauma. At least not of the physical kind.

So to all you Olympic haters out there? Let the ignoring begin!! It’s going to be a long, dark 2 weeks but there will be a brighter future after Vancouver 2010.*

*(Brought to you by the official sponsor of The Olympic Resistance Network. OK, not really. But we think you should give the site a read anyway.)

proudly submitted by Cityslikr