Game show format tests candidates’ knowledge of area
By Kris Scheuer
(Written for the Town Crier.)
It wasn’t your typical debate.
First off, it was held at Fly nightclub. Second, it was done game show style to test the knowledge of the candidates in the most crowded council race in Toronto.
A dozen of the 13 registered Toronto Centre-Rosedale candidates hit the stage for a rowdy session organized by Vote Toronto and hosted by comedian Maggie Cassella.
The event deemed “So you think you can council?” focused on issues from the serious to the fun.
In the spotlight was on Ward 27 candidates Kristyn Wong-Tam, Chris Tindal, Simon Wookey, Rob Salerno, Ella Rebanks, Perry Missal, Robert Meynell, Susan Gapka, Joel Dick, Evan Dean, Ken Chan and Enza Anderson. Paul Spence was the only candidate not in attendance at the June 10 event.
In a Price is Right style question, candidates were asked to name the closest price, without going over, of various budget items.
Both Wong-Tam and Chan knew the police budget was $956 million in 2010 and Chan also knew the library budget was $180 million this year.
The average 2006 income for residents in Ward 27 was $93,476. But how much was the average income for local women?
Wong-Tam answered exactly right: $51,000 while others incorrectly guessed between $33,999 to $68,000.
But who knows the ward best? In Where in the Ward is Carmen Sandiego, candidates were asked to track down fictional criminals in the style of the children’s quiz show. The group tried to track down the culprit behind the fictional theft of the Alexander Wood statue from the gay village.
Candidates had multiple choice options for the real name of a residential building nicknamed Vaseline Towers (it’s actually Village Green).
Local parks and bus routes were also part of trying to track down the “missing” statute.
The most serious and politically charged question of the night was when the candidates were asked if the city was right in pressuring Pride Toronto to ban the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. The city, which funds Pride, threatened to pull money if the organization attended the annual parade because it interfered with Toronto’s anti-discrimination policies.
Some candidates called this censorship while others said it was a complex issue.
Anderson said the city bullied the Pride Toronto board into banning the group.
Wong-Tam added, “In my opinion Pride belongs to the people…How do we reclaim the march and take back Pride?”
Wookey said he supported Pride Toronto’s decision.
Meynell, a political professor who has studied Middle East conflict said this is too hard a topic to sum up in a sound bite at a debate. He was referring to the use of the word apartheid by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid when referring to Israel’s policy regarding Palestine.
At the end of the night Tindal gave one of the best speeches explaining the importance of running for council.
“I really believe in our democracy and the importance of this election,” said the former Ontario Green Party candidate. “The decisions made by the city have the most direct impact. Make this campaign about what you want. Make the next city councillor someone we can be proud of.”
Incumbent councillor Kyle Rae is not seeking reelection.