A wise man once said a single twig is weak but a bundle of twigs is strong. (I'm not sure, but I think I got this from an episode of Kung Fu.) Well, it's time for Londoners to quit being twigs. Or branches. Or whatever you call those little sticks that are handy for digging doggie doo-doo out of your boot treads.
It's time to end the bickering, shed our shyness, raise our voices in unison and proudly proclaim what we know in our hearts to be true: We have the craziest mayor in Canada.
It's not going to be easy. But I think we can do it.
The Craziest Mayor in Canada contest is being featured on Rick Mercer's Monday Report website (www.cbc.ca/mondayreport). The site includes an e-mail ballot that encourages voters to: "Just explain to us in no uncertain terms why you have the craziest mayor in Canada."
The website features a montage of five top candidates for the title of craziest mayor: Don Atchison from Saskatoon, Andy Wells from St. John's, Hazel McCallion in Mississauga, Gerald Tremblay in Montreal and our very own Anne Marie DeCicco.
Winning this national title would surely be a boon to the Forest City.
"It's an incredibly prestigious honour," says Mercer, the former member of CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes whose satirical new show debuted Monday on CBC-TV. "I'm sure there'll be some kind of crown."
Mercer says that because he's one of the judges, he won't explain why DeCicco is featured on the website.
"It's hard to say what I'm looking for," says Mercer. "But I believe that municipal politics in this country is a depository for the completely mad."
Mercer says the judges' decision will be influenced by two factors: Number of votes and most compelling explanation.
"Right now, there's been no case made why she (DeCicco) should win," he says. "That's up to the people of London."
But when pressed to name his top pick, Mercer relents.
"I think your mayor could be an early favourite," he says.
Still, the competition is stiff.
St. John's Mayor Andy Wells, for instance, once declared a "Taekwondo Day" in the Newfoundland capital.
"Hurricane" Hazel McCallion, the 83-year-old mayor of Mississauga, stands barely five feet tall, earned $5 a game playing semi-professional hockey in her youth and once complained a local hospital emergency department was "loaded with people in their native costumes."
Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison may have topped that craziness, however, when he issued a dress code for visitors to his office.
"I've always said, 'Casual dress, casual thoughts,' " explained Atchison, who also runs a men's clothing store. He later rescinded the idea.
Also in the running is Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay, who in addition to reportedly hiring 55 advisers and once foiling a mugger, made headlines in 2002 when he demanded the bilingual version of O Canada be sung at the Grey Cup game in Edmonton.
"Honestly," said Tremblay. "We're in Canada."
DeCicco knows of Mercer -- "I think I met him at the comedy awards (in London) last year. He's kind of a short guy?" -- but is baffled about why she's on the list.
On the plus side, DeCicco did oversee the adoption of the city's new slogan, "All mixed up," which was designed to showcase our cultural diversity but, well, doesn't.
But that's just not crazy enough. To be honest, DeCicco is consistently rational -- too rational, in fact. And that's got to stop.
"I really don't know what to make of all this," she said, giving an earnest, decidedly uncrazy thumbs-up to one opponent.
"If I'm a finalist with Hazel McCallion, I'm in good company because I really admire her."
But if DeCicco wants to win this contest, she's going to have to torque up her crazy quotient. Here are some suggestions:
- Hairdo: The mayor needs something radical here. Maybe she can borrow a page from bald mayoral candidate Ivan Kasiurak and shave her head.
- Tattoos: As far as I know, DeCicco's skin has never felt the inker's sting. I think a tree -- symbolic of the Forest City -- gracing her midriff might work.
- Mime: As a former radio reporter, DeCicco is graced with the gift of gab. I think a month-long vow of silence would grab attention.
- Searing honesty: Telling everyone what she really thinks about fractious city councillors and managers might be her trump card. It's a downright crazy idea, I know. But if we're going to win this thing, we have to pull out all the stops.