An interview with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

By Sarah Jones

Photo by Jennifer Tse 

A renewed sense of humanity and culture is something that Kristyn Wong-Tam hopes to bring to City Hall.  Wong-Tam defeated 14 other candidates in yesterday’s election to replace Kyle Rae as councillor of Toronto’s diverse Ward 27.

A sense of humanity is certainly needed to deal with many of the issues that face Toronto today.  This is especially true in Ward 27, a downtown ward that stretches from Queen Street all the way to St. Clair, and is home to a mosaic of Torontonians including the very rich and the very poor. 

 I spoke with Wong-Tam before the election about her plans to make Toronto a safe and more equitable city for women.

 First of all, she said, the city needs better illumination in the well-worn paths that women often find themselves walking alone at night. 

 Making the trek home from Dundas Sation often makes me skittish. Especially when I leave the brightness of Dundas Square and am forced to cling to the feeble lights from closed stores and the front porches of people’s homes. 

 Darkness all too often acts as a cover for the kinds of woman-centric crime we read about.

 Along this line of thought, Wong-Tam also believes that its time for a resurrection of the “Neighbourhood Watch”.  If more people are willing to keep an eye out, crimes can be prevented, or at least reported.

 In our conversation Wong-Tam emphasized that the city must redeploy police cruisers to areas where they are most needed – where they too, can prevent crimes from being committed against women. 

 “For far too long, [the police] have been sitting in their cruisers in all the wrong places,” said Wong-Tam with frustration edging into her usually calm voice. 

 Wong-Tam also plans on tackling the issue of marginalization of women in Toronto.

 She argued that the best way to see the end of women’s marginalization is to provide them with economic opportunities. “Women’s safety is tied into economic prosperity,” said Wong-Tam.  

 A Gender Equity Lens should be used as a tool in bringing greater economic prosperity to women said Wong-Tam. This ‘lens’ should be used to examine issues of employment and recognize the ways both genders, and not just men, are affected.

 “We have to look at gender equality from an intersectional angle,” emphasizing that there is no simple solution to ensuring that Toronto is safe for women.

 Wong-Tam, who narrowly defeated fellow front-runner Ken Chan by a margin of two percent, had the support of a variety of different public figures, including former mayoral hopeful Sarah Thomson and Rhonda Roffey, the executive director of Women’s Habitat. 

 After my meetng with Wong-Tam I hope this new councillor brings a sense of humanity to Ward 27 and will ensure that steps are taken in the right direction for all its occupants.


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