Don’t hold up a sign on the internet, because the internet will make fun of you.
Like Anne Coulter before him, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong inadvertently made himself the target of online jokers Thursday when he allowed himself to be photographed by the Toronto Sun earnestly holding up a sign to protest the cost of a public washroom on the waterfront.
His sign originally carried the price of the Cherry Beach loo, $600,000, but there being a few hundred Torontonians out there who don’t like Minnan-Wong’s politics, know how to use Photoshop, and have a lot of free time on their hands, other versions quickly began to pop up.
His critics had a lot to work with, given the combination of Minnan-Wong’s oh-so-serious face and the subject of his outrage being a place where people poop. The visual gags range from the political to the scatological, but a common theme is that Minnan-Wong is attempting to manufacture some outrage and get his face in the papers in the run-up to the October election.
Mayor Rob Ford has certainly decided to run with the controversy over the costly commode, calling a press conference on Thursday to demand the resignation of the Waterfront Toronto CEO. Seven months after registering for the election Ford has yet to release a platform, and it appears he thinks that reprising his crusade against small-time public expenditures is his best bet to keep his job. The fact that he never went to any meetings when he had a seat on the Waterfront Toronto board from 2010 to 2012 is apparently no obstacle to him attempting to cast himself as a keen-eyed defender of the public purse.
How much should a public toilet built on remediated industrial land not serviced by the city sewer system cost? We don’t know. But we hope that politicians keep using signs to tell us about it.