Living up to the zaniness of Toronto's municipal politics, a series of head-turning parody signs popped up in the downtown area Monday morning, featuring fictional mayoral candidates with outlandish electoral promises.
One imaginary candidate says he will smoke only pot, not crack. Another bogus hopeful vows he won't get caught on camera peeing in public.
The campaign, which generated much attention on social media, is the latest brainchild of No Ford Nation, a non-profit group that wants to unseat Mayor Rob Ford.
"The signs are to highlight that pretty much anyone in this city would be a better choice," said Christina Robins, who started the group three years ago.
The campaign signs, which were planted overnight in Trinity Bellwoods Park and in some areas near City Hall, come in three different versions.
"The current mayor threatens to kill people and gets publicly drunk. If elected, I promise I will just get publicly drunk. Vote Ray Faranzi," one sign says, alluding to a famous video where an agitated Mr. Ford utters threats.
"When I urinate in public, I never get caught on camera. Vote Jim Tomkins," the second series of signs says, a reference to a court-released police picture that showed Mr. Ford relieving himself near a tree.
"Elect Jeff McElroy. He promises to just smoke pot as mayor. Not crack," the third sign says, referring to Mr. Ford's most publicized controversy.
The signs include the address of the No Ford Nation website, which is dedicated to beating the incumbent mayor in this fall's municipal election.
Ms. Robins, an aspiring novelist, said she has set aside her literary work to focus on her group, which she says is non-partisan and relies on volunteer labour.
The website outlines nine recurrent electoral claims that Mr. Ford makes, rebutting them as false or misleading. The site also features short profiles of six other mayoral candidates: Olivia Chow, John Tory, Karen Stintz, David Soknacki, Richard Underhill and Robb Johannes.
The group is part of a movement of citizens who have grown increasingly vocal in their opposition to Mr. Ford. For more than a month, for example, a handful of protesters, such as website designer Chris Caple, have staged a sit-in outside the mayor's office.
"There's a lot of very angry people in Toronto and we feel that we are not being represented," Ms. Robins said.
The fake campaign signs are the fruit of a brainstorming session with Ms. Robins and two ad creative directors at the Rethink ad agency, Aaron Starkman and Mark Scott, said the firm's managing director, Caleb Goodman.
Rethink is the agency behind the cheeky commercial produced for the Sochi Olympic Games that showed two men in tights swaying together on a luge before the ad says: "The Games have always been a little gay."
Mr. Goodman said the latest campaign was done on a pro bono basis.
Ms. Robins previously worked with Rethink to create three animated cartoons mocking Mr. Ford.
The cartoons allude to three famous episodes in the Ford saga: when he suddenly admitted last fall to smoking crack, his cunnilingal remarks about having "more than enough to eat at home" and the video where he is heard speaking in Jamaican patois.
Mr. Ford's actual words from those three events are mixed with cartoon drawings, then each clip ends the words: "Toronto needs a mayor, not a cartoon character."
Ms. Robins said her group is not aligned with a particular candidate and only wants to replace the controversial incumbent.