I love Toronto. I was born and raised in this city. I've lived here all my life and all over it too, from Steeles and Warden to Finch and Don Mills, from King and Dufferin to Spadina and Front. Touring in a rock band for 17 years across six continents, 31 countries, and God knows how many cities has made me realize nowhere comes close to my home city of Toronto.
It's my love of Toronto that's made it a heartbreaking two years, watching our recently (and nearly-removed) mayor Rob Ford take our beautiful city of Toronto and play with it like a toy found at the bottom of a cereal box.
From the sidelines, we've all seen Ford and his acolytes try to turnover, cut, reduce and privatize much-needed programs, social services, plans, agencies and venues ($19 million total) all in the name of reducing taxes in favor of mega-malls, subways and ferris wheel schemes. If anything, Ford's mayorship reminded all of us how much we care for this city and are willing to fight for it.
Since October of 2010, Ford's mayoral post has resembled absurdist theatre. Between his bumbling flubs (stumbling, allegedly drunk off his tits, into the Calgary Stampeders locker room during halftime, giving the finger to passing motorists and spending 12 hours a week coaching high school football) he's managed to capture national interest, dare I say, international interest playing the buffoon. The last time municipal politics and a city mayor were able to do that was when Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry was convicted of crack cocaine possession in 1990.
When Ford was recently ordered to step down as mayor due to conflict of interest issues that stemmed from his high school football coaching, the response was stunned awe followed by cheering and finishing with a collective sigh. His whole stay as Toronto mayor, from his campaign to electoral win, have all played out like a corny '80s teen flick pitting Ford as the jock-antagonist Alpha-Beta fraternity member with the city of Toronto as the pooled Tri-Lams (Revenge Of The Nerds reference). His eventual removal seems to be the final Act 3 in this saga... but maybe not.
You'd think itcouldn't get any more ludicrous, but on January 2 former Blue Jays baseball player Jose Canseco ventured a tweet announcing his interest in the almost-vacant Toronto mayoral seat. Never mind Canseco is American and ineligible, and never mind his steroid past makes him a laughable prospect, what became an easy press field day revealed a scarier state of affairs -- Rob Ford was just bad enough to make ANYONE seem better as mayor. So...
Fuck it, I'm running for mayor.
Don't everyone laugh all at once and don't moan either. Hear me out. I've got ideas:
* I would reinstate David Miller's LRT Transit City plan, but also look into further developing the subway lines (despite it being a Ford mainstay). If we are to be the cosmopolitan city we think we are we have to start looking like it.
* I will never vote against funding for APCIP (AIDS Prevention Community Investment Program) like Ford did (shame, shame). And I would attend the Pride Parade INSISTING I have my own giant float.
* Cyclists are on equal footing with motorists and there will be bike lanes all over the city, including a restored one on Jarvis St. In fact, if you can prove you bike to work, tax rebates and/or rent subsidies will be provided depending on your income.
* Any social services that were threatened with reduction would be fully funded if not increased (Wheel Trans, Heritage Grants, libraries, snow clearing, Police Service, Affordable Housing, Subsidized Child Care Spaces).
Now, if I've got your vote so far, here's where I need your support the most:
* Mandatory Driving Tests Every 2 Years -- Because nobody knows how to fucking drive in Toronto (can't make left turns, yellow lines are not to be crossed, can't signal when changing lanes...).
* Condo Living Dismantled (provisionally until moved to the suburbs like Mississauga, Scarborough). Too many condominiums in Toronto have paved parking lots and put up 650 sq. foot paradises to paraphrase Joni Mitchell.
* Little Mexico -- There's Little India, Chinatown, Little Italy... there needs to be a semi-designated area in Toronto where I can get some real tortillas, enchiladas with mole sauce, tacos doused in Cholula sauce and horchata.
* Entertainment District swapped for Pacific Mall -- The horrendous King & Adelaide club district, where first-time drunks dance the night away until first-time assault charges are pressed, will be dragged off to Steeles & Kennedy Rd., site of the soon-to-be abandoned Pacific Mall while Pacific Malls gets a city-funded $10 million makeover in its place.
* Tim Hortons and Chino Locos -- Instead of the Canadian donut franchise teaming up with the weight-inducing Cold Stone Creamery, all Tim Hortons will be made to team up with Chino Locos. It's the only place where I can get a General Tao or Jerk Chicken burrito and I want one with my coffee.
* No Casinos -- The Metro Toronto Convention Centre won't be the site of a new casino but rather a new music venue bent on featuring the most extreme music like Khanate, Yamantaka Eye, Sunn 0))), Jandek, Keiji Haino and Wolves In The Throne Room. It would be a penance citizens have to pay for electing Ford in the first place and a little reward I would give myself for winning the election.
* Gardiner Expressway -- What to do with the Gardiner? Let's have a city-wide fundraising festival where people can pay a small fee to blow up a little part of the road with dynamite. Rubble removal would create jobs and the end results would leave a beautiful green oasis in the middle of the city.
* Dank-Con -- The regular Canadian content regulations (Cancon) enforced by the CRTC would be amended to only play music of my band. All monies collected will go into the manufacturing of our CDs, merchandise, vinyl, videos, etc. Now I realize this is probably the most polarizing issue of my campaign platform (because I read the Huffington Post comments some of you people leave every week under my columns), and that it's technically a federal one, not municipal, but don't fret, all Toronto citizens will receive a 10 per cent discount.
So Please VOTE FOR ME!!! Or don't... whatever... I gotta go on tour soon.
Follow Danko Jones on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dankojones