(Courtesy Matt Shore)

(Courtesy Matt Shore)

Jo Temple is Toronto’s latest, unofficial mayoral candidate. She’s anti-sidewalks, fitness neutral, fiscally something and the heiress to a butter fortune. The only catch? She’s not real.

The spoof candidate is part of a social awareness campaign that hopes to engage the youth vote, spearheaded by a group of 13 Ryerson radio and television arts (RTA) students. Jo Temple, loosely based on Rob Ford, is an exaggerated, socially-unconscious candidate that mocks Toronto’s current mayoral candidates.

“The point is we have really short attention spans right now,” said third-year student Zac Schwartz, who originally came up with the concept of Jo Temple. “You can have fun with these people, but Jo Temple, unlike Rob Ford, is a vehicle for information about the (2014) campaign.

“Temple brings you towards other candidates’ platforms, so you can have an educated vote and still have fun with the campaign, but use your vote wisely.”

The group has created an entire campaign to promote Temple, including promotional YouTube videos, video press conferences and a Twitter page with close to 10,000 followers.

They launched the caricature about a month ago in their advanced digital media class, after hiring a Ryerson graduate to play the part. The blonde-haired candidate uses phrases like “stop the margarine train” and is promoted online as “not your average Jo.”

Her online platform highlights transit, jobs and infrastructure — promising a $45 Blockbuster gift card for those who buy cars, and promising swimming pools on every block.

According to Schwartz, theyoriginally came up with the mayoral spoof in response to the “mini-apocalypse” at city hall and ongoing Mayor Rob Ford antics.

“I think it’s a really dangerous road and the only way that Ford could possibly be re-elected is if young people don’t care again,” Schwartz said. “Clearly we have the numbers to come out and sway the election.”

Third-year student Matt Shore helped create and launch Temple’s official website. He said the campaign is directed towards the university and millennial demographics. Though Temple is not on the official candidate list, Shore said he hopes she will inspire students to get involved.

“We want to create a commentary to get people more active in the realm of politics,” he said. “At the core, it’s definitely just for people to make an informed decision and take in the information around them and vote properly and vote accurately.”

In the upcoming weeks, the group will be working on building Temple’s media presence with a press conference on campus, media interviews and placing campaign posters around the city.

Schwartz said they also hope to partner with No Ford Nation, a community group that has put up fake mayoral candidate road signs around Toronto with sayings like, “When I urinate in public, I never get caught on camera. Anyone’s better than Rob Ford.”

For now, Schwartz said they plan to continue Temple’s campaign until the October election, though it might be difficult to control what she ends up saying.

“She’s a walking sound bite, a loose cannon,” Schwartz said. “There’s nothing her publicist can do (or) her PR people can do to keep her from running her mouth, that’s for sure.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 9, 2014.

Abigale is a graduate of the Ryerson journalism class of 2014 and former news editor of The Ryersonian.