Tonight is the first televised Toronto mayoral debate, and the first one to feature all five of the main candidates who, as of a couple of weeks ago, had officially announced their candidacy for Toronto's top job. Olivia Chow, Rob Ford, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz, and John Tory are considered the so-called establishment candidates, meaning that they stand the best chance of winning, but there are also 39 other people up for the job with their names currently registered on the ballot. Who are these people that make up the so-called "fringe" slate of mayoral candidates? They may not have the clout, the fundraising power, or media reach of your Chows, Fords, Soknackis, Stintzes or Torys, but that doesn't mean that they don't have anything interesting to say. (And it's worth nothing that both Robyn Doolittle and The Grid have written on the subject.) Let's take a look at some of the people who find themselves cast on the political fringe.
Sarah Thompson - Perhaps the best known of the "fringe," but sadly not for her forward-thinking transit ideas. She's the publisher of Womens Post magazine and ran for mayor in 2010 before bowing out at the 11th hour, and then went on to accuse Rob Ford of drunkenly groping her and unoffically kicking off a scandal-filled 2013 for the current mayor. She then claimed to have the inciminating crack tape of Ford, and entered the 2014 race last week in a horse drawn carriage. (In the interest of full disclosure I wrote a couple of book reviews for Womens Post as a freelancer.)
Norm Gardner - A former Metro Toronto city councillor and a Toronto city councillor, Gardner has enjoyed a long and varied political career and his fair share of controversy. He was forced to resign from the Police Services Board after accepting a free gift of ammo from a gun manufacturer, was accused by the Star of reaching a secret deal with the police union to allow telemarketing fundraising efforts, and for said in a Oct. 2001 radio interview that he assumed a list of terrorism suspects were "predominantly of Middle Eastern descent."
Charles Huang - Excuse me, I mean Official Supreme Majesty Charles Huang. If you want to talk about the lunatic fringe, here he is. His platform includes legalizing drugs, repealing the law of gravity, taxing the trees, and an "Optional Topless Tuesday" policy at City Hall. There are also a lot of pro-stripper and prostitute provisions, which either puts him ahead of the curve or sees him taking a jackhammer to women's lib; it's a really thin line. It's highly possible his candidacy is an elaborate gag, but you have to admire his honesty: "“People, I am the only candidate that can promise I won’t screw up @Toronto because I am lazy to do anything," he said in an actual tweet.
Al Gore - No, not former U.S. Vice-President and Academy Award winner Al Gore. His platform includes the creation of a charitable foundation to help treat people with mental health and addiction issues, and to make Pearson the main hub for Virgin Galactic.
Richard Underhill - Perhaps best known as an award-winning saxophonist and co-founder of the band Shuffle Demons. Be warned though, Underhill does not like the term "fringe candidate."
Robb Johannes - Another musician, and founding member of Paint.
Jeff Billard - President of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 598, Billard is a first time mayoral candidate and has a released a pretty comprehensive platform that focuses on the arts and the environment.
Ari Goldkind - Another would be transit guru and criminal lawyer. He favours tolling the Don Valley Parkway and increasing property taxes to pay for subway expansion.
Matt Mernagh - A long-time advocate for medical marijuana, Mernagh's agenda includes an increase to the land transfer rebate, greater city communication and support for Toronto's urban gardens.
George Dedopoulos - He's literally been blogging about his campaign experience from day one. I'm not sure exactly what he stands for, but he's not going to talk about dating, drugs or what's in his speedo.
Morgan Baskin - Currently the only high school student in the race, Baskin is running to end the divisive politics at City Hall and bring "a new voice to municipal politics."
Diana-De Maxted - The founder of the Society Community Association Network (SCAN), and a regular fixture in Toronto politics, Maxted once presented then-Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino with a pair of earrings during a "meet and greet" with Toronto's LGBT community in 2001.
Monowar Hossain - A perennial mayoral candidate who ran in the 2003, 2006 and 2010 races, Hossain has previously campaigned for workers rights and the dealienation of Toronto's immigrant population.
Carlie Ritch - AKA: Mizz Barbie Bitch, a professional dominatrix. She registered last Thursday in uniform, complete with riding crop, but the circus already rode in with Sarah Thompson's horse drawn carriage. On the other hand, the puns practically write themselves.
Don Andrews - The leader of the neo-Nazi Nationalist Party of Canada. So he's got that going for him.
Ryan Emond - Owner of a private member's club.