Mayor Fiacco showed up to the venue in a badass-looking jacket and training clothes.
We soon learned that he was a Canadian boxing champ in the 80s, and still works as a ref and organizer for our national boxing team. He runs a boxing club in Regina, as does his brother and many of his friends. They must have had some wild brawls as kids.
Boxing has taken him around the world, including to the 2006 Olympics in Athens, Greece. After retiring from the ring, he brought his fighting spirit back home to Regina. He said he wanted to become Mayor because the people of Regina didn’t seem proud of their city and needed inspiration. Since becoming mayor 11 years ago, he has striven to inject some liveliness into Regina and its inhabitants.
He was excited about a program in which kids are able to become the “Mayor for the Day”. Once a month, anyone in grade 6, 7, or 8 in the city can write an essay explaining why they love Regina and would like to be Mayor.
The winner gets to accompany Mayor Fiacco on all his meetings in the city for the course of the day, no matter how busy he happens to be. Also, he tried for years to get concerts happening in the football stadium where Rough Riders play. He finally broke through the red tape and Regina landed the Rolling Stones in 2006. Since then, dozens of huge acts have come to play for his city.
He has kids of his own, and like a good parent, that means sometimes tough decisions that aren’t popular in the short term. It is his worry that many leaders in Canada aren’t willing to trade popularity for proper planning for the future. According to Pat, this is what led to a multi-billion dollar infrastructure gap in Canada, resulting in lackluster facilities, aging roads and the kind of negligence that led to the collapse of bridges in Quebec.
At one point Pat pointed out that The Exchange, the venue we were sitting in, was a great example of youth getting involved in the life of their city. A few years ago it was in need of renovation and fresh management when a young team took on the task of rejuvenating it. Today, it is the city’s best venue for up-and-coming bands, with facilities for concerts, fund-raising events, film and art showings, and plans to develop further. Pat talked with pride about how it embodies exactly the kind of project that he wants to see bring life to his city.
It dawned on us that Mayor Fiacco could knock us all out if he wanted to. He’s still a scrapper. Luckily, our meeting with him went well and there was no risk of a fist fight. We wish him luck and hope to see him again.