Canadian author in war of words with Toronto mayor

August 3rd, 2011 - 12:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Aug 3 (IANS) Canada is witnessing a war of words between its famous author Margaret Atwood and the mayor of its biggest city, Toronto.

Atwood, one of modern era’s literary giants, has locked horns with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to save the city’s almost 100 libraries from closure.

When she heard about the proposed closure of libraries to bridge the budget gap last week, the author said the city mayor and his councillor brother Doug Ford are “swiftly approaching the ‘let them eat cake stage’” in their attempt to cut costs.

Hitting back at her, the mayor’s councillor brother said, “She could walk right by me. I wouldn’t have a clue who she is. Tell her to go run in the next election and get democratically elected and we’d be more than happy to sit down and listen to Margaret Atwood.”

The author of famous novels such as The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, Oryx and Crake, and Cat’s Eye raised the tempo further Tuesday when she said “twin Fordmayors” (the mayor and his brother) are actually incapable of understanding that the closure of libraries will damage Toronto’s literary reputation.

“The message sent by Doug Ford (mayor’s brother) - and that has now gone worldwide - is that creative people are not welcome in Toronto. Not artists, not musicians, not writers. Not them, not their conventions, not their festivals, not their concerts, not the innovation they bring to the city,” the Toronto-based author told the Globe and Mail newspaper in an email.

“When the Pied Piper found that his musical talents and his style of dress were not appreciated, he left town. But all the kids went with him. Real estate prices went down,” Atwood added.

A movement called ‘Atwood for Mayor’ has sprung up, is drawing huge support for her in the city known for its Left leanings.

But “I am not running for mayor yet. But if it comes to be true that people cannot voice an opinion unless they have been elected, then we are no longer in a democracy,” said Atwood whom the Sunday Times of London has described as “one of the most inventive, enthralling and accomplished authors writing in English”.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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