2013 Hero: Drake
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2013 Hero: Drake

Nominated for: being an ambassador who is proud of Toronto, and who does us proud.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 2 p.m. on January 1. At 4 p.m. we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

hero drake brian mclachlan

It hasn’t been a great year for Toronto. The eyes of the world were finally on this city, and what they were seeing wasn’t pretty.

That harsh glare brought on us by Rob Ford only served to illuminate all the other terrible things about the city that we’ve just learned to ignore. Our infrastructure is slowly decaying. We haven’t seen a subway line completed since the mid ‘90s, and that one was kind of terrible. Our “child of the province” status means that our city council is often powerless: overruled by the OMB on development issues, unable to find the revenue it needs on its own. And to top it all off, our sports teams are terrible.

But at least we have Drake. One top-selling, highly emotional rapper may not be able to build a subway or keep the Gardiner from collapsing, but what he’s done is remind us of what’s good about this city. Drake’s abundant civic pride has shown us—not to mention the rest of the world—that in spite of our flaws, there are some pretty great things going on here. He represents the best aspects of the city. He’s professed his love of his hometown all over the world. He’s given a helping hand to other local artists. He’s lent his celebrity to our sports teams, acting as “global ambassador” for the Raptors and convincing Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe to sign with Toronto FC. He even had a Toronto-themed birthday cake.

While it may not be as official, Drake isn’t just the Raptors global ambassador—he’s the city’s. He’s the face of Toronto the cool, a creative, multicultural, ambitious global city. He wants us to live up to our potential. He believes that we can party like Atlanta, get money like New York, and be suave like Paris. In many ways, Rob Ford represents Toronto’s past. He’s dysfunctional, small-minded, scared of change and has a chip on his shoulder. Drake, on the other hand, represents our future: smooth, globally connected, creative, just arrogant enough to be charming, and with a great collection of sweaters.