Photo via Twitter
Toronto’s political climate has always had its share of characters, but those characters haven’t been exposed to an international audience until the past few years. The current mayor John Tory recently blundered in public by assuming that Kanye West was a Canadian, causing him to backtrack and release a video where he could appear "trill" to the kids by listening to Kanye West on a subway and ogling Kim Kardashian’s Rolling Stone cover (the video has thankfully since been "withheld" over copyright). And who could forget Rob Ford, the crack smoking half man, half meme. Rob Ford’s crack-saga was one of the most entertaining moments in Toronto’s history, and was recently commemorated forever by Drake in his “Energy” video.
For those who closely followed Rob Ford’s premature departure the name Norm Kelly is very familiar, as Norm is the guy who temporarily stepped in for Ford in 2013. For others, the Scarborough councillor will be famous for delivering witty tweets with the same cheesy delivery your quirky uncle might use, joshing about everything from traffic, to how much Monday sucks. But recently Norm got himself in the middle of the beef between Drake and Meek Mill by tweeting at the Philadelphia rapper that he is “no longer welcome in Toronto.” This prompted Meek Mill to react, calling Norm a thug. Undeterred, Norm replied to Meek, calling Drake a “hero” in the process while likely brushing off his newly-received owl pendant.
We called Norm Kelly at home to find out whether or not the Toronto councillor writes his own tweets (he does), whether he’s ever heard a Meek Mill song (he hasn’t), and whether he’s worried about setting foot in Philadelphia (he isn’t).
Norm Kelly & former Toronto Raptors player Greivis Vasquez
Noisey: Have you ever heard Meek Mill’s music? Do you have a favourite song?
Norm Kelly:No, I don’t. I haven’t heard his music and I don’t have a favourite song. What attracted my attention was that he attacked a guy who’s not only a Canadian hero, but really a prominent citizen of Toronto.
Drake is a hero in your eyes?
Oh yes! You know, he is a guy who feels the city that raised and nurtured him, he’s a remarkably talented guy, he’s highly respected, and Meek … I don’t know what the word is. Disses?
That is correct.
He disses him a week before he comes to town to perform at a concert.
Are you going to be attending Nicki Minaj’s concert next week?
No, I’ll be on holidays at that time.
You’re not going to Philadelphia by chance, are you?
[laughs] I’ve been there once.
Are you worried for next time, now that you’ve "dissed" one of their local heroes?
No. I just wanna remind you that the Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia team in the World Series.
Did you see the tweet where Meek Mill called you a thug? How do you react to that?
I’ve been in politics for 30 years, stuff like that just rolls off my back.
What’s your favourite Drake song?
Well I know Drake less through his music than by his participation in the life of the city. I follow basketball and last year when I had the privilege of acting as the de facto Mayor of Toronto, I got closer to the Raptors than I had been previously. Drake has identified with that team, and has identified internationally with Toronto. You know, The 6. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for one Torontonian to come to the defence of another.
Do you write all of your own tweets, Norm?
I do, but I’ve told everyone that I steal shamelessly from everybody. If you say something to me that gets me thinking, or you’re close to me and I throw them at you and listen to your response, i might use that. But in the end, yeah, I do. It’s been very liberating.
It’s funny that you say that. I don’t know if you know, but this argument between Meek Mill and Drake started over ghostwriters, and what ghostwriters traditionally do is write something, but not receive credit for it.
Do you think that Drake might be the type to use a ghostwriter, similar to how you look for ideas for tweets?
I’m not close enough to the rap scene to give you an answer on that.
Do you know the five pillars of hip-hop?
I don’t. Someone said to me a week or so ago, “how do you know so much about rap?” And I said, “well, I just know who to ask.”
And who’s your go-to rap guy?
One of my stepsons.
Slava Pastuk has now become Norm’s go-to rap guy - @SlavaP