Toby Heaps describes himself as the “candidate for human mayor” in a two-part ticket with his dog Molly, both running to lead Toronto.
Heaps says he and his pup are running together to better the city.
Election rules in Ontario, require candidates to be over the age of 18, a Canadian citizen and resident in Toronto, ruling Molly out from running on the ticket alone. While the legislation doesn’t specifically say dogs can’t run, those stipulations rule them out.
“In the field of therapy and security, we already use dogs to help us do better and be more effective, and I think politics could do with a bit of a revamp,” he told Global News.
“Having Molly down there at city council would help us all be a lot more human, and I think would help us be more effective and find solutions for the people of Toronto.”
With a dog and human candidate sharing the platform, many would assume Heaps’ campaign is a spoof, but he says he’s deadly serious.
Heaps said he is campaigning 16 hours per day and has invested $20,000 of his own money, with a fundraising goal of $10,000 by June 1.
He has, for example, launched a series of policy proposals aimed at making the city more dog friendly. They include changes to patios to introduce soft incentives encouraging pubs to welcome more dogs and tweaks to make it easier to take dogs on transit.
He is also pushing policies to reduce salting in the winter, which can damage the environment and dogs’ paws. A campaign to double the number of parks in Toronto is also part of his plan.
“This is a serious campaign — and Molly is a seriously empathetic and beautiful dog,” he said. “I believe to the core of my heart that politics would be better if we had more animals around when we were making decisions.”
Heaps said the other candidates in the race were “business as usual,” particularly when compared with his unique campaign. The unusual duo promises “more imaginative policies” than those offered by other candidates, including positions relating to the environment and affordable housing.
A fully costed platform will be released before the election, he said.
Heaps estimates around half of Toronto voters own dogs, something he is hopeful will help bag extra votes for the vision he and Molly share for a more dog-friendly city.
There are 102 candidates running in Toronto’s mayoral election, you can view the full list here. The vote is set to take place on June 26.