The Ontario mayor who said “f… off” to conspiracy theorists

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The Ontario mayor who said “ f... off”to the conspiracy theorists

Diane Therrien, Mayor of Peterborough

Diane Therrien never thought she would go into politics. She also didn't expect her tweet to the conspiracy theorists to go viral. In Peterborough, a small town in southern Ontario, the young mayor is known for her outspokenness. She welcomes us to her home, with her two dogs and her mother, to talk swearing and politics.

Fuck off, you fuckwads. The invective was short , but effective. In French, Diane Therrien's tweet would have gone something like Go fuck yourself, band of cons.

The Mayor of Peterborough was addressing a group of conspirators who surrounded her city's police station in August and attempted (unsuccessfully) to arrest uniformed officers.

They prevented our police officers from responding to real emergencies, underlines Diane Therrien, exasperated by the demonstrations against health measures which have disturbed her city for more than two years.

We have seen [the conspiracy theorists] behave disruptively and antisocially for months. Clearly, it doesn't work to politely ask them to stop, so I wanted to send them a message, explains Diane Therrien.

“There is no polite way to talk to these people, because they are not polite.

— Diane Therrien, Mayor of Peterborough

She shows the list of calls, texts and tweets she received after the tweet in question. Hundreds of messages from across the country. Along the way were a few negative comments, but mostly encouraging words from Canadians equally exasperated by the conspiratorial movement.

I don't know why more elected officials haven't not firmly taken a position on it, launches Diane Therrien. The majority of Canadians are fed up and, as elected officials, we must stand up for our communities.

“I come from a working family and didn't go to private school, so that's how I talk in everyday life.

— Diane Therrien, Mayor of Peterborough

It's not just Ms. Therrien's colorful vocabulary that sets her apart from her counterparts: her profile is also an anomaly in municipal politics. The 36-year-old Hamilton native won her first term as a city councilor less than four years after moving to Peterborough.

At the time, there were only men on the city council and most of them were over 60 years old. I found that it did not represent our community, explains Diane Therrien.

After only one term as councillor, she ran for mayor and won 70% of the vote, well ahead of the outgoing mayor. It is her style, but also her progressive ideas on the environment, feminism and reconciliation with indigenous peoples that charm the electorate.

“People told me I was too young for city hall, that I had to wait my turn, be patient, but I said, “No, what am I waiting for?”

— Diane Therrien, Mayor of Peterborough

I admit that I am one of the people who told him to wait a bit, says Carole Therrien, Diane's mother. But she proved me wrong.

And in relation to her daughter's viral tweet, Carole says that Diane used her first f word at 18 months only: in a supermarket, shortly after hearing his mother swear at a motorist. She was a precocious child, smiles Carole.

Carole Therrien, the mayor's mother

Diane Therrien's mandate will end on October 24. While some of her colleagues are working to get re-elected, the mayor can afford to slow down, since she will not be seeking a second term.

It will be a relief, she says. The elected official explains her decision for several reasons, in particular the hostility of some of her colleagues and the sexism she faced.

“The city of Peterborough as such is very progressive. The city council, not so much.

— Diane Therrien, Mayor of Peterborough

There are councilors who think it's still 1983, says the mayor. Diane Therrien is not the only one who has chosen to leave politics: other outgoing elected municipal officials have announced that they will not run for a second term for similar reasons.

I can't wait for Generation Z to take control and for there to be no more boomers around the table, says Diane Therrien, who does not want her experience deters young people, women and marginalized groups from entering politics.

Mayoress remains evasive about her future after mayor. Ms. Therrien, who was approached by the Ontario NDP in the last provincial election, says only that she wants time out of the spotlight.

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