Hidden Toronto: The Secrets of City Council

In Hidden Toronto, acclaimed author and amateur historian Nicholas Tristan seeks to discover not the Toronto of Drake, that weird sports bar Wayne Gretzky owns, and $16 cocktails; but rather the hidden Toronto, the Toronto that has been forgotten by the so-called “historians” with their “professional degrees”.

So you’ve been elected to Toronto’s City Council. Congratulations! That’s not an easy task -- first of all, you needed money, organizational skills, and a well-oiled political machine; not to mention some old fashioned country gumption. You also had to make a deal with that wizened old crone that lives in the hidden catacombs ‘neath Old City Hall -- she’ll return for her end of the bargain, don’t you worry.

But what does all this all mean? Everyone knows what the mayor does: mayoral duties, mayoring, cutting large ribbons, handing giant cheques to orphans or corrupt city developers, and lane swimming at least three hours a day. This is, of course, in addition to other mayor-related activities.

City councilors, on the other hand, are in a bit more of a nebulous position. Sure, you vote on bills and filibuster from time to time and sometimes you say something like “the chair is out of order!” or “this whole damn system is out of order!”, but is really the whole of your job? Of course it isn’t! Allow me to explain some other perks:

  1. Free meals. Everyone knows kids eat free at places like Denny’s and Applebee’s, but this generous promotion also applies to duly elected members of Toronto’s city council! Simply tell your server “goo goo gah gah I’m a councilor” and you will be entitled to absolutely anything from the kid’s menu, free of charge! Even a milkshake, you ask? No, not a milkshake actually. Those...those aren’t free.

  2. You now understand Japanese.  日本語をはなす! すごい! ヤーッス クィーン! Isn’t that exciting? Yes, being a member of Toronto’s council endows you with fluency in the language of the land of the rising sun due to a pact signed between the cities of Toronto and Yokohama in the mid-80s! It’s too confusing to explain how and why in this article, but it happened for some reason. The important thing is now you can watch all your favorite anime films and television series neither subbed nor dubbed, making you the coolest member of your local anime club or Japanophile society!

  3. Deers now respect your authority. Finally. Those fuckers have been mocking you for too long.

  4. You get to decide what movies John Travolta makes. Ever wondered why Travolta has turned down roles in hits like Chicago, An Officer and a Gentleman, Top Gun, and Forrest Gump while appearing in dreck like Battlefield Earth and this year’s megaflop Gotti? All the work of Toronto’s council chambers, who vote on the actor’s career choices in a special session every year. At each meeting Travolta will plead with the council for some decency, some semblance of mercy, but is always met with cruel and mocking laughter. So go ahead, have Travolta play a time-travelling Mozart who falls in love with Cleopatra: he’s under your control.

  5. Toronto summers aren’t unbearable. Forget the humidity, the heat waves, the garbage smell: you’re protected against these things by a climate-controlled dome you spend every waking second in! The dome is invisible to everyone but other councillors, as well as the dome repair people because they gotta see them to be able to repair them. The domes do break a lot, but what are you gonna do? Not live in a climate-controlled dome?

  6. Hard drugs are legal. I mean, you probably already guessed this one thanks to Rob Ford. Our other councilors are more discreet -- Mike Layton, for instance, is a raw ether fiend. Joe Cressy is never seen without his vial of laudanum. And Ana Bailão can’t get enough of ibogaine, a rare psychoactive drug found mostly in Africa. Have fun, and be careful!

There you go! Who says being a councillor is a thankless job? Now go out there and pass some laws, yell at the mayor, and don’t forget to do whatever the old crone under Old City Hall tells you to do. No matter what. You made a promise.