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Toronto's Fringe Mayoral Candidates

Posted by Guest Contributor / April 9, 2010

Doug Campbell Toronto MayorDespite being led by six candidates, Toronto's mayoral race has 25 total participants, the majority of whom are unknown to the average citizen. In fact, it doesn't take much to run for mayor: the only requirements you need to fulfill are being a resident of Toronto, over 18 years old, a Canadian citizen and an ability to pay the $200 registration fee.

The race is thus full of characters, from Joseph Pampena, a blind PR agent with a "vision" for the city, to Andrew Barton, a twenty-seven year old "scientifictionist, photographic dabbler, and transit nerd."

But three candidates in particular stood out to me when I turned my attention to the margins of the race: Kevin Clarke, a homeless man with a penchant for public outbursts, Don Andrews, a self-described racist, and Douglas Campbell, a far-left activist who thinks Dalton McGuinty is involved in an international conspiracy with the Catholic Church.

I decided to meet with each of them to find out about their platforms and to explore this fringe element of the democratic process.

Kevin Clarke
Kevin Clarke TorontoI found Kevin Clarke outside TTC headquarters at Davisville Station at what was supposed to be a protest against Adam Giambrone. He was at the reception desk wearing garments wrapped around him like a Middle Eastern thawb. I was, as it turned out, the only one to show up to his protest.

"I learned this from when I slept outside," he explained when I asked about his outfit. "The city would always come and take away my blankets. So I would wrap them over my head and hold them tight, and this is what came out."

Clarke is homeless, but spends most of his nights at the Good Sheppard Ministry on Queen Street. He told me that his main goal would be to end poverty if he were elected. He also wants to increase housing programs, add bike lanes and end police abuse.

As we stood waiting for people to show up to his news conference, he said that "to solve the social decay in this city it's not about your educational background, it's about your experience." He was, I assume, referring to his time on the street.

"I'm an ex-con, ex-drug dealer, ex-pimp, ex-crack head, ex-business man--I'm experienced," he told me.

He's also clean. About two years ago, when he was made a godfather of a close friend's child, he stopped using drugs.

After the protest, he changed out of his garments and, without warning, began to yell at random people on the street. He called them "racists," "rednecks," and shouted: "To be mayor of Toronto you need to face me!" At one point he walked into the middle of the intersection and blocked traffic.

The intriguing (and slightly confusing) thing about this outburst was that Clarke didn't appear to be "crazy." Not only was he lucid when I spoke to him, I got the distinct sense that he made the scene to get attention, to put on a show. Indeed, my impression of Clarke was that he was a thoughtful and strategic guy.

Since our meeting, he's dropped out of the race. In an email, he said he was unfairly arrested at the first mayoral debate in Scarborough, and due to the "silence," he's been forced to withdraw. I'm not really sure what he means.

With Clarke out, the race has lost one of its most sensational candidates. He's a great example of the fact that (almost) anyone can run for mayor.

Don Andrews
Don Andrews TorontoDon Andrews (warning: link may be offensive) is the founder of the Nationalist Party of Canada. He's a perennial candidate for mayor, and in the mid-1970s was jailed under Canada's hate laws.

My friend and I met him at his home. It was nice place around the Beach, and full of paintings (one was by a member of the Romanovs, he said.) There was also a Swastika and a painting of SS soldiers on his wall. His teenage daughter was there too--a polite and kind looking girl.

"I'm running to give the white people an opportunity to express their views," he told me. The media "is always trying to shut you out; it's run by the Jews of course."

I asked him whether he considers himself a Nazi, and he told me he's a racist first. "Call me what you want, just not late for dinner," he joked.

Andrews insisted he doesn't hate other ethnic groups, and said that "racism is for everyone." He expects people of different ethnicities to stay together. "It's about a sense of belonging," he concluded.

Andrews is an immigrant himself. He was born in modern day Serbia, and came here after the Second World War. He was separated from his parents as a child, but the Red Cross reunited him with his mother, who had immigrated to Canada.

"I came here kicking and screaming," he reminisced. "I'm not one of those economic refugees, or criminal runaways."

Andrews doesn't distinguish between whites of European origin, choosing instead to view racial division within broader categories.

In 1974, Andrews placed a distant second to David Crombie in the mayor's race. However, election laws at the time allowed the runner up to take over in case the mayor's position became vacant. To prevent someone like Andrews from ever doing so, City Hall changed that rule after the election.

During our meeting, Andrews talked enthusiastically about his five-point plan for Toronto. He wants $20 billion from the federal government for "Toronto's recovery from federally-sponsored immigration invasion policies," to re-establish racial profiling, to begin a tree planting campaign, to eradicate graffiti, and to start a European Heritage Week.

Before we left, my friend asked him what he likes about Toronto, he told us: "I get teary-eyed when I think about the city. It's beautiful; I've never seen a city with so many ravines, so much greenery, and so many parks."

I was surprised when I heard this. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and yet Andrews seems to love it. Go figure.

Douglas Campbell
Douglas Campbell torontoDouglas Campbell is a former school teacher and an old school left-wing activist. He was born in 1930, and he's been "in politics" for decades.

When we met, we talked about his background in political activism. He said that after the war, "Harry S. Truman, that lunatic-Jewish president, ordered the end of the Canadian Merchant Marine. And 12,000 sea men, overnight, became unemployed."

Campbell was one of those men, and became the Secretary of the Union of Unemployed Workers, which he said was a leftover of the Canadian Seamen's Union. He then took an active part in protests, demanding more recognition for veterans. Since then, Campbell has unsuccessfully run for the Ontario NDP leadership and for mayor several times.

I asked him about his rivals in this race, and he told me George Smitherman was as a tool of the provincial Liberals. "McGuinty is a Roman Catholic Premier, and therefore he takes his orders from wherever God is," he said. He told me that McGuinty and Smitherman were under the control of arms producers, and that Smitherman was a puppet of the Pope.

I had trouble getting him to describe a coherent platform. He told me vaguely that he supported "university for all, and public ownership." When I asked him about transportation, all he said was that "it's a good idea." He did say he wants to fix the budget by cutting public executive salaries, but had nothing to say about crime.

Campbell has a girlfriend, Anna Kurtinis, a retired woman who he met recently while canvassing for mayor. She's a pleasant woman who sat through our interview and who shares most of her partner's opinions.


Speaking to these three fringe candidates helped me to appreciate democracy. People often take it for granted that the democratic process is radically open, and I always hear talk about the horrible state of our democracy or about voter apathy, but it's fascinating to see the people who exist on the periphery, outside of the popular discussion.

These candidates will grab a few hundred votes at most, and the major players, like Rocco Rossi and George Smitherman, will continue to dominate the race. I got the sense, however, that all of the peripheral contestants I met simply enjoy being at the head of a movement -- even if only a few dozen people are listening.

Clarke, Andrews, and Campbell have all run and lost before, and they must expect their chances of winning are close to zero. If it weren't for the sense of mission they get from their candidacy, they probably wouldn't have any other reason to run.

Many other mayoral races have their share of fringe candidates too; Toronto's election is not unique in this sense. And as long as you have open elections, we're bound to keep seeing such characters.

Writing and photograph of Kevin Clarke by Tomasz Bugajski. Photos of Don Andrews and Douglas Campbell by Amy Stupavsky.



Jimmy / April 9, 2010 at 11:38 am
Hey Don Andrews/racist/clown:

"European Heritage Week"?

If you're too stupid to notice all the annual festivals that happen in Toronto from pretty much every European country, then you're probably too stupid to be mayor.

You don't belong in this country. If you could pack up and leave, we'd all appreciate it.
steve / April 9, 2010 at 11:51 am
The 2 pictures of Douglas Campbell are fantastic.
Rob / April 9, 2010 at 11:52 am
Since our meeting, he's dropped out of the race. In an email, he said he was unfairly arrested at the first mayoral debate in Scarborough, and due to the "silence," he's been forced to withdraw.

I know you can go to the public library but this sentence made me think - how does a homeless man have access to email? Who does he email? Who emails him?
S / April 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm
There are many more people running for mayor which we still don't know their platform as mainstream media ignores them. NEVER say you will not vote at any election. You have that right in this country. You have the right to vote against someone by voting for those that may never win - but - those who are the chosen few by the media will take notice when the count shows that people did indeed vote.
Bonnie / April 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm
Ain't democracy grand?
marky / April 9, 2010 at 01:01 pm
I thought the 'white supremacist' part of the article would be about Rob Ford... Zing!
Miroslav Glavic / April 9, 2010 at 01:21 pm
I was there at the Scarborough debate and I do have about 50+ photos of Kevin Clarke and his arrest.
Eric S. Smith / April 9, 2010 at 01:57 pm
Based on these sketches, Kevin Clarke is the most credible of the three featured candidates: he doesn't blame his misfortunes on Those Darn Jews.
HUK / April 9, 2010 at 02:10 pm
*** Pours one out for Ben Kerr ***
TBONE / April 9, 2010 at 02:23 pm
I think I just found our next mayor. He's a fan of the Canadiens, though.
meh / April 9, 2010 at 03:04 pm
That one guy reminds me of Gil Gunderson from the Simpsons.

Interesting feature and good writeup. I like hearing about the other mayoral candidates. There's another raft of them who aren't in the limelight but aren't crazy either.
Greg Smith replying to a comment from Eric S. Smith / April 9, 2010 at 03:15 pm
Nevermind that Truman was a Baptist.
Seshan replying to a comment from S / April 9, 2010 at 03:17 pm
I think it's better to void your ballet then to vote for some one because you don't want to vote.
Greg Smith replying to a comment from Greg Smith / April 9, 2010 at 03:23 pm
... 'cause casually ignorant bigotry is the best kind.
michelle / April 9, 2010 at 03:42 pm
LOL all i can hear is "womp womp" when i see that first photo
Michael / April 9, 2010 at 04:10 pm
It's really quite the 3 ring circus isn't it!

It's a real shame that when you have real candidates who care about this city and have been in the ring before are tossed aside for no good reason! Your talking about people working for the good of the city! That persons personal life is NYOB!

I for one would rather vote for a cheat than a racist or a man who thinks yelling at people in the street is normal!
agentsmith / April 9, 2010 at 05:29 pm
Ahh yes, Clarke... I'd wondered if this guy was still around. I ran into him in Greektown back in 2002, and he gave my friends and I quite a show.

He was wearing all white, a doily on his head, and rollerblades that were also spray-painted white. He used a wad of leaves as chalk to write "CLARKE FOR MAYOR" on the sidewalk, then launched into a rambling speech that began with "This has been a non-hostile takeover!" He began chatting up my friends and I when he was finished, and at first we were apprehensive, but he quickly won us over with his friendly and entertaining brand of insanity. He said he'd just ran into his sister, who'd happened to walk out of a bar and find her brother "acting all CRAZY on the sidewalk!" We asked if he'd gotten the leaves from the potted plants on a nearby restaurant patio, and he told us they'd chased him off, so he has to get his leaves from "the chalk tree" in the alley.

He asked if we were Greek, and when we said no, he told us that everyone is Greek. To explain, he used his chalk-leaves to write the letters "G-R-E-E-K" vertically on the sidewalk, then turned it into an acronym for "GOD'S RIGHTOUS EQUAL EVERLASTING KINGDON" (his spelling), and drew a big heart around the whole thing. By this point he'd attracted a few other spectators too, and he spread his arms like a preacher and declared, "So you see, we are ALL Greek... and by that I DON'T mean going in the back door!"

He then turned and skated away without another word, leaving both his chalk-leaves and his Tim Horton's cup full of change behind. He tried calling out to him to tell him, but he was gone. I saw him once more outside the Phoenix a year or two later, but never since. That time he was wearing a knitted afghan blanket over his head.

Apparently Clarke is somewhat well-known, and someone once told me that he really does run for mayor in almost every election. Glad to hear he's still alive and gotten clean. CLARKE FOR MAYOR!
Tomasz replying to a comment from Miroslav Glavic / April 9, 2010 at 08:00 pm
Hey, I'd love to see those photos, do you have them up anywhere?
albert / April 10, 2010 at 11:34 am
hmmm. i'm pretty sure i saw clarke at sheppard-yonge station. i can say he looked pretty homeless last time i saw him. but here? he's looking pretty good.
Christopher / April 10, 2010 at 06:19 pm
Great piece Tomasz, love it.
Tomasz replying to a comment from Christopher / April 11, 2010 at 01:24 am
Tasha Batt replying to a comment from S / April 13, 2010 at 02:14 pm
I like this comment. I think apathy is contagious in a way.
chephy / April 14, 2010 at 05:38 pm
I'll vote for that first dude over any of the more prominent candidates. We have a truly depressing crop of candidates for this upcoming election.
sezme / April 16, 2010 at 02:35 pm
Don't forget Rocco Achampong, whose website is Don't know if he'd be good, but at least he's pro-bike lanes.
sean / April 29, 2010 at 03:09 pm
Just google rocco achampong, the varsity did a piece about him a while back, he was president of a U of T student union, he was so bad they made him resign.
FG replying to a comment from steve / May 20, 2010 at 09:44 am
toronto next mayor / May 27, 2010 at 07:46 pm
once july 1 come's i as those who are believers to join us.
for those nonbelievers start believing in the great good which is "the spirit of truth"..

i do not know where my next meal is coming from:

give me a choice today to ask you for a dollar to eat or 1 day a week volunteering from you for the rest of this election to see that all have food to eat ,i choose the latter:

for when we see that all have there needs we are never wirhout our needs for we're included in the "all"..

don't believe the media lie's in there deciet they have destiny us to win:yet"yet"you will notice i did not say me,i canot win,i said "us"we will win if there is more than me ,..this election is now about office
or at home (416)922-6032 or email (

to help with our (g20 mission email(

pure love ,political truth ,and humane honesty
your friend
kevin clarke(together we're winners)
kevin clarke / May 27, 2010 at 08:12 pm
i have re-entered the race for mayor "why "simple the children are priceless and so is your need's..

and "yes"i had first withdrew for i felt i was being lead into a rasce battle and that i would not entertain for my grandfather is CAlled(whiteman) well now he is called dead man he died a while age..

i re-entered because i believe in a lot of you and i truely feel down the streath we can count on you to help make a difference..

(i am now former homelees man)
a couple point's on this young man's article

#1)children don't do what i did..
i did it to teach vechicle opperators to alway'as be aware and focus for at any moment the pedestrian situation my become unpredictable so don't take for granted respect pedestrian..
#2)when thing's get you angry don't strike out at other's physically,most of the time a good (shout)get's the anger away...
#3)smile ,have fun and for those who are not having fun (maybe they don't know how to and all they need is you to show them how...

why should we love one another "simple here is the reason..first close your eyes,they are close good now open then,next take your finger stick it in your mouth now suck on it ,suck ,suck ,suck,stop don't sollow ,now take it out of your mouth then stick it up your bumhole, now smell your fingers ..are you different or better than any oneelse...good bless
with love kevin
kevin clarke / August 13, 2011 at 12:59 am
i need to contact the former fringe candidates do you know how to get there email or phone..please and thank you provincal election recalling rob ford ,who just called kevin clarke at 11 pm friday nidht to discuss city buisness while he is piss drunk...
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