I just don’t think I could vote for Margaret Atwood for Mayor of Toronto, and not just because her writing is overrated. She has represented CanLit well for several decades, and dominated CanLit syllabi in universities from Acadia to UVic. Without Atwood, undergrads would have to read Mordecai Richler and, gawd forbid, well, not Atwood. Also, she invented that Long Pen, which is kind of stupid. Would she govern by the Long Pen?
In order, here is a partial list of Toronto-based writers who I would rather see as the Mayor of Toronto:
Mike Spry – I need the work, and frankly the writing thing just isn’t working out. No one told me how little it paid, and I’m assuming Mayor of Toronto the Good makes at least six figures. And I have a Masters degree. Does Margaret Atwood have a Masters degree? Well, yes, from some American university called Harvard. How very un-Canadian. Plus, I just spent seven years in Montreal, so I know what makes a city great and I know what playoff hockey looks like.
Stephen Brunt/Jeff Blair – The Globe & Mail sportswriters would need to split the gig, because they are by far the premiere Canadian sports journalists (along with Michael Farber, though he was born in the US) and without them we’d be forced to stomach the likes of Steve Simmons and Richard Griffin. Both Brunt and Blair have blunt and forthright, and Blair is on the record for hating Nickelback and loving Montreal. What else do you need?
Sheila Heti – K, well, first of all she wrote How Should a Person Be?, and Toronto has more often than not been impersonal. And she comes off as scrappy, and Toronto could use a Mayor with some truculence. Also, her recent effort with Misha Glouberman, The Chairs are Where the People Go, has a cheeky title and a cheeky premise. Truculence + Cheekiness = Good Times.
Dave Bidini – In the Rheostatics (awesome.) Writes about hockey (awesome.) Enoug said.
Gord Downie – Toronto could use a Kingston townie to whip it into shape. And I’m not sure, but I don’t think The Hip hace released an album since 1999’s Phantom Power, so I would imagine he’s looking for activities. He’s a Bruins fan (though he comes by it honestly, as Harry Sinden is his godfather or uncle or something), but that’s something that could be ignored. Plus, he wrote a collection of poetry that people actually purchased.
Leslie Feist – Okay, maybe I’m listing too many songwriters, but they just seem like they’d be into good governance. Plus, Feist has recorded with Wilco, and has experience with infectious tunes (1, 2, 3, 4…) and Toronto has had problems with infection (SARS, which ironically led to a concert and, well, whatever.) Plus, I think she was on Sesame Street once, and Sesame Street is the best.