Toronto
2 min

Want an effective Ward 27 councillor? Vote Kristyn Wong-Tam

I can tell you this: I wouldn’t mind seeing at least six of the Ward 27 candidates end up on city council. They are a genuinely likeable bunch, from a professorial silver fox to a gutsy new mom.

In particular, gay-positive, bike-friendly envirogeek Chris Tindal would make a fine addition to city council. So would Susan Gapka, whose work as a trans activist has already shifted the debate federally and provincially.

Be we have only one vote, and can elect only one city councillor. With that in mind, lesbian entrepreneur Kristyn Wong-Tam is the best of the lot. She’s got a rare blend of business experience and grassroots activism under her belt.

What does that look like?

In August, Xtra asked her how, as a city councillor, she would maximally protect the right to public protest, given the infringements against civil liberties that took place during the G20. Her answer? I would march with the protesters, she told us. The police wouldn’t dare arrest a city councillor for exercising her right to free speech, would they?

Coming from her, it’s not an empty promise. We’ve got photographic proof: Wong-Tam, in a pantsuit, staging a die-in in front of Rob Ford’s office after his now-infamous “orientals” comment.

The descriptor that’s missing from many of the other candidates is “effective.”

The Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area? She was a founder of it.

The federal apology for the Chinese Head Tax? She helped put it on the national agenda as a leader at the Chinese Canadian National Council.

The statue of Alexander Wood in the Village? Her name is on the plaque.

Youth Line’s Will Munro Award? Yep, that’s Wong-Tam’s work.

I interviewed, formally and informally, about a dozen people about her. No one who has actually worked or volunteered with Wong-Tam has a bad thing to say about her.

Wong-Tam is the progressive candidate with the best shot at the chair. I hope we — as gay people and Ward 27 residents — can rally behind her.

Ken Chan, likeable as he is, does not have that kind of track record. And his unwillingness to rock the boat, I fear, would lead him to be a councillor of least resistance.

It’s possible that Chan would prove me wrong. But when we have someone like Wong-Tam on the ballot, there’s no reason to gamble.

With endorsements from Now and Eye — and now Xtra — she’s won a rare hat trick from media organizations that rarely agree.

No media outlet has followed the Ward 27 election as closely as Xtra. We conducted editorial board meetings. We attended a number of campaign launches and campaign events. We followed two of the candidates around during morning subway canvasses. We called their supporters, followed the conversation on Twitter, read their campaign literature, researched their personal backgrounds.

Xtra has published much of this online already, including pieces about some of the candidates’ positions on development and electoral reform. We’ve posted a number of videos. I encourage you to read that material for yourself before casting a ballot on Oct 25.