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This 18-year-old is running for Toronto mayor

When Meir Straus turned 18 earlier this year, he only wanted one birthday present: to be allowed to register as a mayoral candidate in Toronto.

His parents obliged.

“I just wanted to run for mayor,” the Grade 12 student told CP24. “My parents asked if there wasn’t anything else I might want, something more useful for my future. And I told them, ‘no.’ This is all I want.”

At time of publication, there are 50 registered candidates vying for Toronto’s top job. Every person on the city’s list of mayor hopefuls has paid the $200 clerical fee, and fits the list of qualifications outlined by the city: being 18 years of age or older, a Canadian citizen, a Toronto resident or landowner, and eligible to vote in Canada.

Straus, who attends a private school in North York, fills those requirements (just – he turned 18 in early March). He concedes his run for mayor is partially a “joke” campaign, but he’s also hoping to use this time as an opportunity to talk about the civic issues that matter most to him.

“It’s making me and my friends laugh, yes,” he said. “But I’m bringing something to the table other candidates aren’t. The world of politics needs humour, and in Toronto we need someone who gives a damn about the issues that surround my generation specifically.”

Some core issues Straus feels have gone under-discussed include the “impossibility” for young people to purchase a home, as well as a mental health crisis that’s spreading across Toronto.

“People my age are feeling disenfranchised,” he said. “My generation will never own a house. I’ll probably never be able to afford a home in the place I grew up, and that’s huge to me. It feels like there’s something that can be done about that, and no one is choosing to address it.

“The mental health crisis in the city is just exacerbating this homelessness crisis,” he added. “There’s a lack of institutions to help with those sorts of issues. There are problems with the city that really do need to change. “

While Straus is keeping these sociological concerns at the core of his campaign, he’s also woven jokes and non-sequiturs into his promotional materials. Some policies he’s proposed include replacing public benches with beanbag chairs, training Toronto raccoons to become first responders and implementing a “weedsmell task force.”

“My hat is in the ring for a number of reasons,” said Straus, whose campaign makes use of how his first name sounds similar to the word “mayor.” “It can be really hard to unite young people for one common cause. I hope my campaign can be that for people of my generation. If anything, I hope it gets them paying attention to the election.”

If becoming Toronto’s next mayor doesn’t pan out, Straus has a few backup plans.

“I’m taking a gap year, but university is on my radar. I got into University of King’s College, which is my top choice, so I might go there after my gap year. I might want to do journalism,” he mused.

“But Plan A is obviously to govern the City of Toronto.” Top Stories

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