This week: James Di Fiore, OddmanicMayor!
If you have to ask what exactly OddmanicMayor means, it means you’re an old fart, yo. Which is why we didn’t inquire about it for fear of looking like, well, an old fart. Let’s just leave it as one of those tics of the youth vernacular us grown-ups just weren’t supposed to understand.
You see, the James Di Fiore mayoralty campaign is all about getting young people out participating in the electoral process which they do not do at an alarmingly low rate. According to Di Fiore, the youngest voters (ages 18 to 35) represent over a third of Toronto’s population but only 18% of them decided to cast a ballot in the 2006 municipal elections. That’s well below an already embarrassingly 39% of all eligible voters who voted in `06.
So it would seem to be a huge demographic bracket to try and engage but that rarely seems to happen. Is it that whole chicken-and-egg, which came first dilemma? Young people don’t vote because candidates overlook them or do candidates overlook them because young people don’t vote? It’s not a new phenomenon, yet it would seem to be an important nut to crack for any candidate willing to try especially in what’s shaping up to be a horse race here for mayor where every vote will matter.
Into that gaping disconnect steps James Di Fiore. A self-described ‘media maverick of Canadian journalism’, Di Fiore gained notoriety when he was charged and convicted of violating the Canada Elections Act after he obtained 3 ballots at three polling places in the June 2004 federal election and wrote a piece for NOW magazine to tell the tale. While the stunt earned him it a $250 fine, it also led to an amendment in the voting law requiring voters to produce picture ID or to have someone vouch for them in person.
This wasn’t the first foray into actual newsmaking for Di Fiore. He also liked to hoodwink TV networks like CNN, CBC, the BBC into granting him panel space on their talking heads shows where he would proceed to cause a ruckus. Or so he claims unless he just punked us into writing that and help burnish his iconoclastic image that goes over well with the kids.
But will displaying attitude be enough to drag the young cohort out from in front of their Xboxes and Wiis and down to the polling stations come election day? If that were the case, we could just roll out, I dunno, Pauly Shore and run him for office. The youngsters still dig Pauly Shore, don’t they?
Mr. Di Fiore’s answer to that is simple. He’s got policies and platforms to back up the hip, subversive perspective. Oh yeah, that’s right, gramps. James Di Fiore will beat you over the head and back with policy ideas.
If elected, he would bring in a 3 year freeze on rental rates (although we’d be curious if that falls within a municipal government’s domain). Di Fiore would also like to see more tax breaks given to single people in the city who don’t get the same consideration as families, businesses or religious institutes. Di Fiore’s downright Dawkins/Hitchens in his animosity toward organized religion. No tax exempt status for you, churches et al, under a Mayor Di Fiore administration although, again, we’re not exactly sure how much of a hand municipalities have to play in that matter.
Di Fiore would also like to see tax incentives used to encourage businesses to foster virtual office space. That is, making it easier for people to not bother getting dressed in the morning and work from home. It would help alleviate congestion in business cores and contribute to a greener city enivornment. Di Fiore would continue the environmental policies of Mayor Miller and expand upon them.
A Mayor Di Fiore administration would intensify the waterfront redevelopment and extend a tourist initiative throughout other parts of the city including utilizing locations like Downsview Park much more. A daily transit user, Di Fiore isn’t one of your typical TTC haters even though he thinks it is weighted down with too much bureaucracy. He’d make it an essential service. He is also concerned about the number of sex offenders who are relocated in Toronto and would endeavour to halt that practice. His concern for the youth even extends to those not yet able to vote.
We wondered if having a campaign platform focused on young voters would be enough to get them out to vote in larger numbers. Did Di Fiore have any tricks up his sleeve to further help entice them to participate in the upcoming election? He did, yes, but when he started talking about using non-political events and online entertainment “that will allow [younger voters] to make a statement when they vote, not just cast a ballot”, we had no idea what he meant. But then again, we don’t have to. We’re not the demographic Di Fiore’s aiming for although he did assure us that as the election drew nearer his approach would become clearer. Even to codgers like us.
So we posed the question we’ve been asking all the mayoral candidates: If the present mayor would like his legacy to be that of the Transit Mayor, how would a Mayor Di Fiore like to see his legacy written? I would like my legacy to be that of a candidate who exposed young non-voters to the political process, he told us. I want 2010 to be seen as a turning point when disenfranchisement is replaced with a gradual inclusion between young voters and the system that represents them. I hope to be the catalyst who facilitates that turning point.
Hear that, front running candidates? There’s a big block of young people out there, wanting a seat at the table. If you’re not going to help make that happen, step aside. Candidate James Di Fiore will. Ignore him (and them) at your peril.
— dutifully submitted by Cityslikr