Toronto council backs fight against Quebec’s Bill 21, calling it ‘contrary to the values of Torontonians and Canadians’
A by-election could have been lost forever after Toronto’s City Council voted in favour of a byelection fight following a referendum and legal challenge to the province’s long-standing Bill 21 in December 2015. The vote was 4-3, and councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam was absent until the final vote, at which she was absent.
“The City of Toronto was not wrong; it was in the best way possible,” she told the Toronto Star at the time. “It was a very tough position to be in, and many councillors had to make difficult decisions.” Wong-Tam had been told in no uncertain terms by city staff to vote for byelection to protect the status quo for tenants.
“It’s not the same to tell staff, as councillors could have done, to tell staff, as they do have power to do, to inform staff, as I could have done, of the risk of the situation continuing,” she said.
The campaign then shifted to city hall, with councillors holding street parties to educate the community, with Wong-Tam giving an impassioned appeal on behalf of tenants in favour of retaining Bill 21.
The fight was won, and the referendum vote was overturned by a judge, but it had cost Wong-Tam her seat and put the city in the position where a byelection could have ended the political career of one of Toronto’s longest serving members, one of the city’s strongest advocates and one of its most progressive voices.
The byelection is now scheduled for October 20.
“I am concerned about the lack of fairness and fairness will cause confusion to people in the city who have to make decisions about their lives,” says Wong-Tam. “I am concerned that tenants, renters, homeowners, are going to be in the middle of it.”
And despite the victory, Wong-Tam says that the fight against Bill 21 is far from over.
“I think, without