Pubdate: Tue, 08 Apr 2014
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell
Page: GT2


Once a week through the end of the mayoral election, we'll introduce
you to an obscure person who is vying to be Toronto's chief magistrate.

Who are you?

Matt Mernagh, 40, calls himself a "disabled cannabis advocate" who
spent more than five years waging a court battle to strike down
Canada's marijuana laws. The St. Catharines, Ont., native has written
a pot smoking guidebook and hosts a weekly webcast called Mernahuana
Zone on Yet Mernagh doesn't want to be defined
by his pot policies. "Now is a time to expand my brand out there," he
says. "Justin Trudeau talks about pot, and I want to expand beyond
that." Mernagh has a brain tumour. "It causes me a lot of pain, but I
don't think it would prevent me from holding public office."

What's your political experience?

Mernagh belonged to the NDP riding association in his hometown, has
attended political conventions and stumped for candidates. His
campaign team includes the founding member of the Freedom Party of
Ontario. "We're all political enthusiasts. We want to see what we can
do in this type of campaign and see what works and what doesn't work
so, when we try again, if we have to try again, we can do much better."

Why do you want to be mayor?

"It was really hard to figure out whether I should run for city
council, because my ultimate goal is to become the first openly
cannabis-inhaling person on city council. I think I can do that within
10 years. We entered the mayor's race because we don't know where our
largest support is. I have friends in Scarborough. I have friends in
Etobicoke, friends up in North York. We've got little pockets of
support everywhere, so it was kind of hard to decide where to go. So
we decided this would be a good opportunity to run for mayor, to get
our name out there and show we love the city and the politics of the
city and we're not just cannabis people."

What will you do when you are mayor?

Mernagh would dramatically increase urban gardening. "We can't get
enough of those. People love gardening, they need to get their hands
in soil. They live in condos that don't have garden space." He would
stop the Billy Bishop airport expansion and rein in the $1 billion
police budget by using different deployment strategies and priorities.
"We would try to make marijuana the least of their priorities =C2=85 I
don't mind them going after hard drugs."

Mernagh would make building a downtown subway relief line a priority
and lobby the province for Toronto's "fair share of taxes to pay for
it. I'd have to go to Kathleen Wynne, or whoever is premier, and sit
outside their office for funding. When it comes to sitting outside
somebody's office I am quite good at it." He'd also push for the city
to sell and tax pot, Amsterdam or Denver-style.

Mernagh would make it tougher to run for mayor: "There are more people
running for mayor than are on the Blue Jays baseball team." Would-be
candidates should, at the very least, produce 100 signatures, he says.
"It's not a huge barrier, come on."

What is your goal?

To beat the 5,012 votes candidate Rocco Rossi got in 2010 despite
dropping out before the election. "If I could get 5,000 that would be
amazing, that would be 2 per cent."

What do you like about Toronto?

Mernagh loves this city for its diversity, tolerance and vibrancy. "In
Brazil, you only cheer for Brazil in the World Cup. In Toronto, people
everywhere are cheering for different teams, because that's how
international we are."
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MAP posted-by: Matt