Westmount-Ville-Marians who went to the polls today might have noticed that Andrew Wattie's name was not on the ballot. It seems that Wattie decided not to run in the general election. Find out this, and more in the most detailed profile I've found compiled by the Link. Maybe next time...
Who is Andy Wattie?
Portrait of a fringe politician
by Giuseppe Valiante
Published October 7, 2008 in The Link (Concordia's independent newspaper)
His name is Ronald Andrew Wattie. He is a vegan and a self-proclaimed running enthusiast. He is 71 years old and lives alone in a small, one-bedroom apartment in Montreal’s east end. He never married and has no children.
But Wattie is no regular bachelor: he is a radical. He hopes to someday become the emperor of a new world order, reigning down on the planet’s 20 countries from his chosen world capital, the island of Cyprus.
This fall, Wattie tried to gain exposure by running as an independent candidate in the Sept. 8 federal by-election for downtown Montreal’s Westmount-Ville-Marie riding. While his counterparts campaigned on platforms advocating issues like fiscal responsibility and stiffer sentences for young violent criminals, Wattie had other ideas.
His political platform-cum-manifesto is simple, yet daunting. It centers on the idea that the world is overpopulated and with him at the helm “the peace of nature’s balance would be restored.” Wattie’s solution: only one in every 50 members of an extended family is allowed to procreate.
“A woman could have one child, two or three, depending on her genetic qualities,” Wattie told me one afternoon in September. “If she is average then she would have two.”
Wattie is very fit for his age. He says he practices yoga daily and could almost get his feet over his head. He is about 5 feet 9 inches tall with a very thin and meager build. He has a full head of brown hair and speaks very softly. When he gets excited about his ideas for the new world order his eyes widen and he smiles timidly.
He was born in Montreal and graduated with a history degree from Sir George Williams University in the mid ‘60s. He worked odd jobs and traveled most of his life, he said.
The platform Wattie hand-delivered to over 75,400 registered electors in his riding stated: “Females […] would stay at home with their parents to discourage further procreation.” This would happen until the world’s numbers would be reduced to a “reasonable figure.”
He further explained that when humans “get serious” about the critical issue of overpopulation, sex would be unnecessary and humans would breed by artificial insemination.
“Say you were selected father,” he said, pointing in my direction. “I saw it on television, a male lion was used. He was put to sleep, and he had a vibrator inserted in his anus …”
The world, according to Wattie, would be broken up into what he calls “20 naturally frontiered (sic) regions.” He pointed to a map of the world on his wall. There was black marker lines drawn all over it that he said represented the borders of the new world. The capital of the area that would encompass most of Canada, the United States, down to the Carribean, would be Winnipeg, he said. “Winnipeg is very strategically located.”
Every city in the 20 regions would select a representative to sit on the board of a capital city. A delegation from all 20 capitals would sit in the parliament of the world capital, Cyprus, where Emperor Wattie would rule.
“There’s democracy on the local level,” he said. He said he chose Cyprus because it is also “strategically located.”
I wondered if Conservative leader Stephen Harper dreamt of a world where he was emperor, or if the New Democratic Party’s Jack Layton has a map on his bedroom wall that he reorganized into a kingdom.
I also wondered how Montreal’s voters would take to Wattie’s plan.
Westmount’s weekly newspaper, The Examiner, hosted a candidate debate in the old, musty and poorly -lit auditorium of Westmount High School at the end of August. A few hundred people attended.
A table with party pamphlets was placed next to the auditorium doors, right below a plaque commemorating the students lost in the great wars, a symbol of a time when the country’s public high schools had more to offer than a auditorium with aisle numbers scribbled in black marker on the paint-chipped walls above the seats.
Wattie’s pamphlets were written by typewriter, on 11 by 17 inch paper, with a black and white headshot of the candidate in the top left corner. The picture was “from the ‘90s” he said. I asked him why a few of his leaflets had a picture of a much younger Wattie, heavily bearded in a bohemian-looking sweater.
“Oh, there were some of those in there?” he asked with a chuckle. “I sent those to the Muslim countries.”
“I’ve been to Muslim countries and they grow beards you know,” he said, sitting on a bench near the water fountain after the debates.
He was wearing a tight blue sweat suit that accentuated his slight frame. Wattie told me he mailed his manifesto to every world embassy in Ottawa, hoping his “imperial world bid,” as he calls it, becomes successful.
He received no questions from the audience during the debates, but sat there, slouched, and passed the mike back and forth to the candidates on either side of him.
The other candidates didn’t seem to appreciate Wattie’s vision.
“I don’t share his values […] but he’s perfectly entitled to be listened to,” said the first Canadian in space, Marc Garneau, running for the Liberals.
“Um yeah, [his ideas] don’t jive with my philosophy, but that’s his personal belief and uh...” Garneau trailed off, saying something about individuality.
Anne Legacé Dowson, the former host for CBC Radio Noon now running for the NDP, grimaced when I asked her about Wattie.
“Well I wasn’t quite sure I understood (him) to tell you the truth,” she said. “But I’m a big proponent of independent candidates and the electoral process.“
“Even if he thinks women should say indoors,” I asked, cutting her off.
“Well, I wasn’t too clear on what he was saying there. I have to tell you, I was a bit surprised by that,” she answered and slowly backed away, signaling the end of the interview.
After pontificating on the need for fixed election dates, Stephen Harper cancelled the by-elections a few days after the Westmount debates for a general election and ended Wattie’s chance of promoting his empirical bid in the Canadian Parliament.
“Oh, I’m quite satisfied. I had a wonderful experience,” he said back at his apartment in Montreal’s east end in late September. He decided not to run again in the general elections. “I got my name out there, so it makes my work easy now.”
He said he won’t rule out running in another election if he thinks it will help him in his imperial bid.
“Being elected would have been great. But I don’t know if I would have been elected,” he said.