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Emperor Larry

Like Caesar or Senator Palpatine, Mayor Campbell could sweep back on bigger terms.

By Steve Burgess 30 Jun 2005 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess is a freelance writer and the author of Who Killed Mom?, published in 2011 by Greystone Books.

Born in Norwalk Ohio, home of the famous virus, Steve was raised in Regina, SK, and Brandon, MB. He writes a regular column for The Tyee, often reviewing films but also, sometimes, detailing his hilarious world travels for Tyee readers. Steve is a former CBC Radio host and has won two National Magazine Awards. He has also won three Western Magazine Awards.

Reporting Beat: Travel, pop culture, politics, cobbling, knife sharpening, furnace repair.

Twitter: @steveburgess1

Website: Steve Burgess

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Mayor Larry Campbell has announced he will not run for re-election. Surprised? Don't be. Any movie buff could have predicted this.

Mayor Campbell has become increasingly frustrated with life in the mayor's chair -- frustration that was underscored recently when city lawyers advised him he lacked the legal authority to beat protesters to death during council meetings.

What's the point, he must have wondered?

And so he bids us adieu -- or so he claims. Don't bet on it. Campbell is just getting started. Think Emperor Larry.

'Corrupt old windbag'

After all, what is the mayor? A stooge, a lackey, a pawn of the dark powers that really run things. Movies tell us so. From Miller's Crossing to Batman, it's a cinematic tradition -- the mayor is a puppet. If you're having trouble with the corrupt old windbag, brush him aside and find out who's pulling his strings.

Larry Campbell wants none of that. He is the most popular mayor in recent Vancouver history. Now is the time to parlay that into bigger things. As Vancouver voters face the daunting prospect of growing political boredom, they will clamour for Campbell's return.

Then will the former Mayor sweep back into the office on his own terms, and those terms will be nothing less than ultimate power. Like Caesar or Napoleon -- or Senator Palpatine from Star Wars, if we're staying on the cinematic theme -- Campbell will ride public support straight to the Emperor's throne. What member of the Bus Rider's Union will dare face him then?

As Emperor, Campbell could have his former tormenters keel-hauled on the 99 B-Line.

Petty anti-murder rules

Watching him in council meetings, it was always clear that Campbell was impatient with the petty bureaucratic rules and regulations that prevented him from killing people. By the time you've filled out all the forms and applied for the proper permits, the urge to strangle someone has already passed (although considering the length of council meetings, not the opportunity).

So Mayor Campbell will become Emperor Campbell. Trains will run on time, and if the buses are late those who might have complained will be deep in underground prisons. The Olympic referendum will be re-run, just to make the vote unanimous. A Wal-Mart will open in Tim Louis' living room. Sam Sullivan will be re-zoned for industrial use.

'Hello, Joker'

There is another possibility for Campbell, however. Should he decide that the role of Emperor would provide too prominent a target he might choose a different role, one based on another cinematic example.

Surely Campbell must have admired this famous figure -- an evil genius working behind the scenes, accountable to no one, capable of wearing a purple suit and actually carrying it off. Goodbye, Mayor Campbell; hello, Joker.

You've got to admit it would suit him right down to the ground.

When Steve Burgess isn't traveling the globe, he writes about movies and entertainment for The Tyee.  [Tyee]

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