Q&A: The Dawgfather
The Dawgfather is running for Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) city council for South End district seven this fall and he’s counting on the student vote for support. Here is what he has to say about his platform, the future of the hotdog stand and the money he owes to the city.
Dal Gazette: Why have you decided to speak only to student media?
Dawgfather: I’ve got nothing to say to the general media. I’ve got nothing to say to them because I’m just trying to energize the students. There are 8,000 more students eligible to vote on the peninsula than people who voted in the last election.
And what I’m trying to get them to do is acknowledge and give a ‘we hear you’ to the kids in Montreal. And the thing is, in no other city in the country do students have the potential to take absolute control than what they do here in Halifax. You guys are a sleeping giant. The student vote here is enormous.
DG: So you’re focusing on support from students?
DF: Oh yeah. The students and the homeowners. There is one particular thing that the homeowners are subjected to that is absolutely ridiculous. For example, if you and I are neighbours and I call HRM staff and complain about your yard. They can come and walk on your yard and have a look. Police can’t even do that. The police need a warrant to come on your property… I’m going to put a stop to that.
DG: What pushed you to run?
DF: What really pushed me were the students. They want to get engaged. They kept saying, ‘Well Dawgfather how come you don’t run?’ ‘Run for what?’ ‘For council.’ Then I started looking into it.
DG: What do you think will be the most challenging part of doing this?
DF: Getting the students to go online and vote. This I think is the third election that HRM has had online voting. So they have actually stepped into the realm of this generation, but the key is to get them online, get them registered (and) all wired up, so that we can send a massive email out and say ‘well, whatever you’re doing, go on your smart phone right now and vote.’ Shake up the status quo. A change you can depend on—and just the fact of me being there is change.
DG: Who will take care of the hot dog stand if you get elected?
DF: I’ll still be working out there five days a week.
The Dawgfather on transparency at city hall:
DF: HRM council has no power. The power is all in the hands of the unelected officials, who are the bureaucrats. If I get (elected) I will make sure for certain that the people will know exactly what’s going on in that room. The only people who can fire me are the people who hire me and they want to know.
I’m not going down there to butt heads with my colleagues. I’m going down there to make them realize that, hey man, see the last government and why they got ousted—because they weren’t doing the right thing. That’s the people’s money; let them know what’s happening with the money.
DG: On your website, what exactly are you referring to when you say you want to end back-room politics?
DF: I call it peek-a-boo politics. What peek-a-boo politics is…when there is something that’s contentious that they think the public wouldn’t like they go behind the camera. When I’m coming out of that meeting I’m telling the public what we said. It’s not the position or job of a council to go hide.
The Dawgfather on law enforcement:
DG: How much do you owe the city now?
DF: About $120,000. But that’s all going to be thrown out eventually because you see, this just has to go to court once.
DG: About how many years are these fines over?
DF: This all began I think in 1999 or 2000.
DG: What exactly is all of it for?
DF: A lot of it is driving without a license. I mean probably $50,000 of it is for driving without license. When they took my license I kept driving. If I stop driving I stop eating; that was a no-brainer.
The Dawgfather on driving without a license:
DF: A cop pulls me over one day and says, ‘Hey Jerry, you don’t have a license.’ I didn’t have my insurance in the car but when they sent the notice in the mail, which would have alerted me, they sent it to the wrong address knowingly(…)I had my license, I had my insurance, I had everything.
The Dawgfather on biking without a helmet:
DF: I don’t need to wear a helmet, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects me, you know. You can’t violate my religion to enforce a bylaw.
DG: Do you think the fines will have an impact on your success?
DF: Oh hell no man, not in the people that I’m going after because I want to energize these students…People don’t look at that, they look at that this (points to his heart). I’ve been sincere. I’ve been out there 16 years.
DG: What is something that you’d like to say to students, since you’re looking to them as your main supporters?
DF: For them to let the students in Montreal know that we’re going to take it to the next level, that we in Halifax have enough students to take control of three MLA seats. If the students just flexed their political muscle then people would start to listen. Because right now the reason they don’t flex their political muscle is because there’s nobody they trust.
For more information about voting in this October’s election visit: http://www.halifax.ca/election/Voting.html
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.