john tory doll

Toronto Mayor John Tory just got his own talking doll and it's pretty darn accurate

With voters headed to the polls in less than two weeks, Toronto is in full-on municipal election mode — though you wouldn't really know it if you looked around the city right now.

Door knockers, lawn signs and other campaign materials have been noticeably sparse in many neighbourhoods, especially when contrasted against the political displays ahead of this summer's provincial election and last fall's snap federal election.

Experts are predicting a record-low voter turnout for Toronto's municipal election on Monday, Oct. 24, based on early polls, low provincial turnout in June (roughly 43 per cent of Ontarians), and generalized sentiments of political apathy and confusion among members of the public.

But all is not blah; In the absence of many formal campaign drives or debates, some interesting art projects have been sparking discourse among younger urban voters.

AusterityTO, where an anonymous creator turns longtime Toronto pain points into fake public art exhibits, continues to be brilliant, and a talking John Tory pull-string doll video is similarly attention-grabbing.

Toronto-based podcast producer Ivan Mirko S. (IMS), whose innovative dystopian audio series The Program takes inspiration from life and politics in Canada's largest city, shared his one-of-a-kind Tory doll via Reddit late last week.

"I made a John Tory pull-string doll to spare him the trouble of being mayor," he wrote when sharing a video of the Canada-made Mayor of Toronto plushie, which has since garnered nearly 3,000 upvotes.

"I am very concerned, I find Toronto house prices extremely troubling," says a text-to-speech voice, parroting some of Tory's oft-repeated talking points.

"I condemn gun violence in the harshest possible terms... very naughty.... no drinking in parks, just go to your cottage... I will protect Toronto from the biggest menace: Cyclists. Vision Zero, Vision Zero, Vision Zero, Zero Vision, Zero Vision."

The final funny dig comes at the end of the clip, when the string is pulled a final time: "This message has been brought to you by Rogers."

Tory, who is running for his third consecutive four-year term as Mayor of Toronto, famously earns $100,000 as a member of the Rogers family trust. This advisory role for one of Canada's largest telecommunication firms is frequently surfaced by critics of Tory's mayorality.

At the end of the Tory plushie clip on Reddit, a message urges viewers to vote on Oct. 24 if they think "Toronto deserves better than a pull-string doll" for mayor.

"The doll is simply another humorous way to draw people's attention to some of the follies of local politics," said IMS, the toy's creator, to blogTO in an interview.

"The pull mechanism comes from my neighbour's music box — the phrases are dubbed as I wanted to have more control over it in the postproduction (and maybe make a sequel with all the suggestions other redditors have made)."

The doll "was never meant for purchase," said the artist, noting that he would never try to make money from something like this. "In my opinion, this capitalist mindset is a big part of what led us into the mess we are currently in."

So no, you can't buy the talking Tory doll, but you can enjoy the concept as a way to encourage critical thinking and democratic participation!

"The reason I made it is because — in my opinion — John Tory lacks courage, conviction, and urgency to be an agent of change. The best I can say about him is that he could be worse," said IMS.

"I guess 8 years ago that might have been sufficient — however at this time in Toronto's history 'good enough' is not good enough. The mediocrity of Toronto's leadership could cause us to miss a generational opportunity to become a truly great city."

Lead photo by

Ivan Mirko S.

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