Proud Joe

By Lawrence Bailey

In an era of plastic smiles and press agents, Joe Clark is one politician who has the balls to do what he feels and say what he thinks.

Written off many times as washed up, out of touch, bland and nothing more than a burnt out career politician, Clark has more lives than a cat and the wisdom of a wiley political veteran.

Steadily gaining in popularity, primarily at the expense of Stockwell Day and his fractured Alliance, Clark is rejuvenated and navigating the political narrows with a subtle brilliance few of his contemporaries possess. As the MP for Calgary Centre, Clark has a very diverse and dynamic constituency–a constituency that gave him the only non-Alliance seat in Alberta south of Edmonton and expects to have his ear.

Between resurrecting one party and watching another fall apart, he has the presence of mind to aid one of the groups that many see as a key to his election victory; Calgary’s active gay community.

Invited by his constituents to assume a position of leadership and become the Grand Marshal of the annual Pride Parade, Clark did the noble and righteous thing: he accepted. Recognizing that these are the people responsible for electing him to his current position and those to whom he is responsible, it was almost his duty to accept.

Many groups would disagree.

The Calgary Catholic Church is none too pleased with Clark and, after having banned him from Catholic schools for his openly pro-choice stance, Bishop Fred Henry has stopped just short of excommunication due to “uncertainty as to Clark’s intent.” Other outraged groups include the Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kansas. The WBC is planning to picket the parade, and recently called Clark a “fag panderer” and a “fag enabler,” claiming he “has sold his soul for a morsel of fag pottage [sic].”

This kind of ignorance and disregard for the highly-valued Christian ideal of “free will” is absolutely disgusting.

The immediate assumption by many sharing similar views is that he is guilty by association although the majority of these views are not as extreme as the WBC’s. By marching in a parade he is apparently promoting the “plague that is homosexuality.” Joe Clark is not devoid of morality nor will he burn in hell for this. He is a politician who is representing his constituents–simple as that. In a city so enamoured with the Canadian Alliance and its ideas concerning grassroots politics and responsibility to constituents, one would think he would be applauded rather than attacked.

Allow me to be the voice in the wilderness: Kudos to you Joe Clark! Keep up the good work.

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