This is the third Toronto mayoral byelection race edition of Doorstep Postings, the periodic political commentary column written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.
Meir Straus was genuinely excited to see himself as a top headline on the website for Toronto news channel CP24—even if it was on a Sunday without much else going on.
As the youngest candidate who paid $200 to enter the race to replace John Tory, the freshly 18-year old North York resident—and Jewish-private-school student—can always pray that a wave of positive media coverage will catapult him into the role he’s been prepared for since 2005.
After all, it’s right there in his name, and his website: Meir4Mayor.ca.
“The local community has been super-indispensable,” he says. “When I wanted to get my endorsement paper filled out, I ran around from class to class at school and had the 25 signatures before I knew it. As it happens, those are the only people I know over 18.”
As befitting a young member of Generation Z, Meir’s campaign is mostly online, consisting of his website, an Instagram account where his teenaged friends make references that are incomprehensible to anyone over 30, a campaign launch video featuring a questionable cover version of the Who’s song about a teenage wasteland.
Meir has also been advertising his campaign on whiteboards at his school—although the average voter doesn’t see a lot of the attention he’s receiving in the hallways, because the teenagers of today know it’s better to keep their accounts out of public view.
“The website went up during the first night of Passover,” he explains, “and people were texting me and telling me how they were reading out all my policies at the seder. It feels like everyone in my community is part of the team.”
Meir’s campaign team is pretty lean—the only verifiable human being seems to be his former Grade 6 class representative, Talia Kirshblum. But, according to his website, Meir has endorsements from his mom, his zayde, Jewish rapper Drake, and a mysterious Rabbi Gemara who may or may not be the vice-principal of TanenbaumCHAT.
If that’s not enough, Meir is on the radar of at least one frontrunner.
“I met Josh Matlow in person and was excited to see him on the campaign trail. I showed him my campaign, and while I can’t confirm an official endorsement, he is possibly the only other candidate who knows me.”
Meir is interested in attending debates and giving speeches, but he reminds me that he’s also a busy high school student, and will be right up until the school year ends—a period that overlaps with the campaign for the June 26 byelection.
“After that, I’m going feral,” he says. “What does that mean? I have absolutely no idea.”
When asked to comment on the race itself, Meir has some actual thoughts: “It’s a pretty diluted race and I know I’m not helping when it comes to that, but the fact that there are many candidates in the race means more issues being raised and much more of the city will show up. I’m glad to see that there is a lot of public safety focus, but I’d like to see more people talking about the homelessness crisis and affordability, because those are two of the root problems.”
Nonetheless, when the candidate did a live Monday morning interview with Newstalk 1010, host John Moore wasn’t too impressed with the lack of political subtext to this satire:
“Strong mayor powers are great, but omnipotent powers are better,” says Meir about the new clout afforded to the city’s mayor. “You can become unto a god and influence world events at your will. For example, I will continue the process of amalgamation and amalgamate the entirety of Canada into Toronto.”
When asked how this would affect the various Canadian NHL teams currently contending in the playoffs, Meir clarified that he would amalgamate all the hockey teams, too. While the name of this Canadian superteam is TBD, Meir assures me that the team would demolish everyone else and secure the Stanley Cup continuously for the next century.
Meir also plans to deal with the city’s out of control raccoons by laying off the entire first responder force and replacing them with raccoons. He also wants to make Canada geese part of his inner circle and they will poop on the lawns of anyone who opposes him.
Finally, he plans to create a special youth outreach program, not for youth themselves, but for all the boomers and millennials who don’t understand Gen Z.
“The Meir4Mayor campaign has representation from all generations, from my Gen X/milliennial mom, my boomer Zeyda Steve, and my baby cousins who are even younger than me.
“We’ll definitely be getting the word out through my baby cousins—as soon as they are able to actually say words.”
Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.