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politics

Margaret Atwood Uses One of Mayor Ford’s Gaffes As a Business Opportunity

The Toronto author is selling a T-shirt with two things on it: Mayor Rob Ford's middle finger, and her autograph.

Bid early and often.

There’s no use sugarcoating it: Rob Ford has done a lot of offensive and embarrassing things that make many Torontonians sorry to call him mayor. The least we can do is harness his blunders for our own purposes. And who better to do that than Margaret Atwood?

Late yesterday afternoon, a one-of-a-kind T-shirt printed with an image of a charming Mayor Ford flipping the bird under the slogan “Welcome to Toronto,” signed by the legendary Canadian author Margaret Atwood, went up for auction on eBay. The proceeds will go to Fanado, a new online venture that Atwood founded.

Drawn in the style of a political cartoon, with emphasis on the mayor’s chin, the shirt references that time last year when he allegedly gave the middle finger to a woman and her young daughter, after the woman had scolded him for driving while talking on his cellphone.

The shirt was given to Atwood during a visit to Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone, where she met with young entrepreneurs, offered feedback on their projects, and looked for possible fits between them and Fanado—an online portal for connecting fans with artists. Atwood, of course, has been a Rob rival ever since the Ford brothers dared to mess with Toronto libraries. Doug even once boasted that if he saw her on the street, he “wouldn’t have a clue” who she was.

Spying an opportunity, Atwood decided to sign the shirt and auction it off to help Fanado raise $85,000 on the crowd-funding site IndieGogo (the fundraising campaign continues until July 28). This isn’t Atwood’s first attempt at eBay success. Curtis White, a school teacher in Edmonton, Alberta, just closed an auction of a signed portrait of Atwood by his artist wife, Oksana Zhelisko, for $1,000 on behalf of Fanado. Atwood reached out to him again to post the Rob Ford T-shirt, available for bids until next Thursday.

Even though he’s in Edmonton, White has heard all about Ford’s finger, not to mention his “hug-a-thug” comments yesterday.

“This is a tongue-in-cheek situation that Rob Ford created himself, and people are having fun with it. This is why we have writers and artists,” he said during a phone interview. “Margaret Atwood is a literary icon getting people involved and thinking ‘How does an elected official do something like this?’ When you choose to be in the public eye, there are responsibilities that go with it. I’m a school teacher, and there are no pictures of me giving the finger.”

Since the T-shirt went up for sale yesterday, there have already been 21 bids. The price now stands at $86.

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