City of Calgary shuts down student's parody website

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Jeremy Zhao, who was only 19 years old when he ran for mayor in the last municipal election, set up a parody City of Calgary webpage where he announced he was running in the upcoming election for Ward 15. There are only 14 wards in Calgary, but Zhao's intention was to raise awareness about the municipal election and increase the turnout.

"Before I begin this post, I have to stress that there is no ward 15," Zhao said on his website (Cats, Chopsticks and Rainbows). "It kind of depresses me that I have to state that because most people probably don't know how many wards there are in Calgary."

Zhao said he was given a cease and desist order from the City of Calgary because his parody webpage was regarded as tampering.

Due to personal issues, Zhao cannot fight the City's order, though he would like to.

"I am terribly disappointed that I can't fight this because I truly don't believe my parody site of the City of Calgary ever violated anything," he said. "I wish I could give you a David versus Goliath story, but not today. Today free speech in this city took a step for the worse. However, I hope one day I will help bring it back."

Other parody accounts have surfaced on Twitter but none were taken as seriously as Zhao's. The man behind the FakeRicMcIver Twitter account, who wished to remain anonymous, shared his campaign slogan with CJSW.

"Don't vote for me because I'm beautiful," he said. "Vote for me because I have the second-best moustache on city council."

FakeRicMcIver said his satire is more entertaining than malicious, but he hopes he does get people involved in city politics and to take a closer look at candidates for themselves.

Voter turnout in the last municipal election was 19 per cent.

Mayoral candidate Ric McIver realizes that satire and parody goes with the territory of being a public figure and said that he often finds FakeRicMcIver's Tweets entertaining.