stephen holyday magic

Meet the Toronto politician who is also an aspiring prop comic

Prop comic greats like Gallagher and Carrot Top had better watch their backs, because we have an emerging talent (and I'm using that word generously here) right here on Toronto City Council.

Ward 2, Etobicoke Centre Councillor Stephen Holyday has always had a way with showmanship, bringing ridiculous props into council chambers — usually to protest things he disapproves of — since first gaining a seat in 2014.

Past antics have seen the councillor don heart-shaped sunglasses, present a flashcard reading "$0," and even wear a lifejacket over his suit.

But for his latest trick, Holyday appeared during Tuesday's virtual city council meeting with a little something extra, as councillors were debating the city's plans to enact Inclusionary Zoning rules that would force developers to include affordable units in large residential developments.

Announcing his latest theatrics, Holyday said, "Politicians and magicians can be similar in a lot of ways," before revealing a magician's hat to prove his point.

So what is his point? Well, Holyday, who oversees a suburban ward with high car dependency, doesn't like the lack of parking requirements for affordable units.

With a wave of his magician's hat, Holyday hoped to illustrate that creating affordable units through inclusionary zoning isn't some sort of magic spell to curb the housing crisis.

"The rabbit has to come from somewhere," Holyday said.

Calmly handling the theatrics, Chief Planner Gregg Lintern explained that data suggests affordable units have lower parking demand, while building vehicle parking drives up construction costs.

But don't let Holyday's acting abilities fool you: This is the same guy who just a couple of hours earlier had been the lone holdout in a vote to give a below-market lease to a seniors centre. The motion passed 25-1.

Lead photo by

Toronto City Council


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