What do politics and shows like Canadian Idol have in common? They are often described as television-driven popularity contests that have little to do with talent and abilities.
Enter City Idol, the ultimate mixing of reality TV tactics and politics. City Idol is a contest currently looking for 100 young contestants, ahem, candidates, who will vie for votes in town hall meetings around the city starting next month. Candidates with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated until there is one sole survivor. That winner will go on to run for Toronto City Council for real with City Idol organizers acting as campaign staff.
Xtra’s heard from one openly gay candidate, Leslieville resident Christopher Reid, a 25-year-old structural engineer. Does he have what it takes to be your City Idol? Decide for yourself.
XTRA: What drew you to City Idol?
CHRISTOPHER REID: Politics has always been a hobby for me. I’ve been doing what I could do in elections since I was 14. So when I moved to Toronto in December 2004, I wanted to get involved in municipal politics.
XTRA: What issues would you focus on?
REID: I would want to bring a new outlook to problems the city is facing. There has been a lack of debate on the issues I want to focus on, including the environment, urban planning and public transit.
XTRA: How does being openly gay inform how you think you will be as a member of City Council?
REID: There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of bringing all the diversity of the city together. I believe being gay helps me to be a little more sensitive to the needs of different communities, since I come from one of those communities.
XTRA: Do you have other political ambitions?
REID: I’d like to Canada’s first gay prime minister and the first openly gay leader of the Conservative Party.
XTRA: The Conservative Party?
REID: Yeah, it would be interesting. Plus, it would stir up a lot of debate, and I would welcome that.
XTRA: Do you have any advice for Stephen Harper?
REID: He should reach out to the whole country. It’s a big country with many different points of view that need to be listened to.
XTRA: If you had to sing like they do on American Idol or Canadian Idol as part of City Idol, what song would you choose?
REID: “All I Ask Of You” from Phantom Of The Opera.
XTRA: You wouldn’t be worried about being pigeonholed as the theatre queen candidate?
REID: Once people get to know me, they will realize that I’m not really the artsy type. Musicals are my one gay stereotype.
XTRA: Is there anything you have learned from those other Idol contests?
REID: I’m just praying there are no Simon Cowells out there judging me. I hope they are all Paula Abduls.
XTRA: In Canadian political circles, who is the equivalent of Paula Abdul?
REID: Belinda Stronach. She’s got the glamour. She’s a diva.
XTRA: How about Canada’s political Simon Cowell?
REID: Stephen Harper. They are both loved and hated. They both get extreme reactions out of people.
XTRA: Ryan Seacrest or Ben Mulroney?
REID: Definitely Ryan Seacrest. He’s got that LA look I like. Mulroney does a solid job, but I gotta give it to Seacrest.
XTRA: If you were on The Amazing Race, who would you want as your teammate?
REID: My friend Ben, because he’s a tall, cute twinkie boy. He’s good eye candy. Waking up next to him every morning would keep me motivated.
XTRA: If you were a contestant on Dancing With The Stars, what celebrity would you want to dance with?
REID: Brad Pitt. Do you even have to ask why?
XTRA: When it comes to The Apprentice: Donald Trump or Martha Stewart?
REID: Trump, definitely. He owns everything. Plus, he can be on TV and still wear his hair like that, and people still love him. He’s the man.