By Nicholas L. Hobson –
Can Toronto City Councillor Norm Kelly ride his current Internet wave to the Mayor’s office?
“I wonder what my notifications will look like on Father’s Day,” reads the most recent tweet from @norm, Kelly’s official Twitter account.
It’s a mundane status update for anyone, if anything a bit self-centered, but the real story happens when you dig a bit deeper.
Currently there are no less than 35 replies calling him “Dad” or “Daddy.” There are emojis being used that are normally found on worldstarhiphop.com, usually followed with the commenter saying something along the lines of “it’s lit” or “turn up”. Not to mention young girls asking for sexual favours about as bluntly as humanly possible.
Then, shortly after wondering what the hell these kids are so worked about, you remember that this is a 74 year-old politician at the centre of it all.
Last year, Kelly was probably most known for being elected Deputy Mayor of Toronto in the aftermath of the Rob Ford scandal. A longtime member of the Liberal party, serving as MP for Scarborough Centre from 1980-1984 and Toronto City Councillor since 1994, Kelly has seen a dramatic rise in popularity within Toronto ever since publicly throwing his support behind Toronto superstar Drake’s summer ‘rap-beef’ with adversary Meek Mill.
After Meek voiced his misgivings towards Drake, Kelly threw his name into the ring, using Twitter as a platform to, in his words, “ban” Meek from Toronto. The news of an elderly politician getting involved in a public rap feud set the hip-hop community ablaze, as well as his timeline.
Kelly’s Twitter follower count soared to over 250,000 people. That’s more followers than Canadian celebrities such as Peter Mansbridge, David Suzuki or the infamous Rob Ford. And all of his tweets, ranging from Drake support and pop culture commentary, to PSAs about a collision on Yonge Street, get hit with a swarm of “Daddy,” “Dad,” or “please do an array dirty things to me” type replies.
It seems Kelly has the public popularity that every politician desires, and with two years remaining until another municipal election in Toronto the question remains if he can take all the people calling him Daddy and have them start calling him Mayor.
It wouldn’t be the first time the father of two from the Scarborough area had attempted to so. In 1985 he ran for Mayor’s Office in Scarborough, but lost the incumbent Gus Harris.
As a Federal Liberal MP in 1983 he was appointed to the Special Committee on Visible Minorities in Canadian Society.
A trained historian studying Canadian Political History at the University of Western Ontario, Kelly won a Governor Generals Award for his efforts on Pierre Berton’s novel The National Dream. Kelly also lent help to Berton for the follow up The Last Spike.
Kelly currently sits as a Toronto Councilor, elected out of Ward 40 – Scarborough – Agincourt. You can follow him on Twitter @norm.