A long-time friend, Kristyn Wong-Tam, decided to run for City Council in Toronto. Although I’ve helped out a little in other candidates’ campaigns in the past, this was the first time I’ve ever been so deeply involved in a ‘big P’ political campaign. It was intense. And what do writers do with intensity? We write. Here are some morning after ramblings.
I’m still amazed that half the city didn’t vote at all. This was the sort of contentious election that should have had more people engaged. Why weren’t they interested? I logged many hours doing phone canvassing and door knocking, and up to the eleventh hour (9pm, Sunday night, as late as it’s really polite to call) people were still saying they were undecided. A few people said they hadn’t yet done any research and would ‘just make the decision in the voting booth’. Others said they wouldn’t vote at all. The apathy nearly cracked my sugar-coated phone voice.
Monday was like being in an episode of The Amazing Race. Kristyn’s campaign team boasted almost 150 election day volunteers who ran around the city reminding (and cajoling) people to vote. I argued with security guards and building managers who didn’t want to let me in, snuck into other buildings, sweet-talked residents who I’d clearly woken up, and made nice with elections officials who didn’t seem to know what a scrutineer was. I talked to people who had forgotten that it was election day, and thanked me profusely for reminding them. I spoke to people who beamed at me when I arrived at the door, who proudly declared that they’d just come back from voting for our candidate.
At 8:30pm, I hurried back to join the victory party in progress. My girlfriend, in front of a TV in another city, phoned with results, the first set looking as though a near loss was imminent. She was behind by 100 votes, then ahead, then behind again. And then everything changed. When I got to the bar the crowd was cheering. She’d won. I was elated, relieved, overwhelmed.
After months of work by Kristyn and her fabulous team, the campaigning is over. I suspect the real work of standing up for Toronto is only beginning. I know she’s up for it. I am so glad to have been part of this effort, and this win.
A postscript: Kristyn ran a campaign that was positive, without any mudslinging. Here is a short memo to those who did the opposite:
You are a wannabe politician and your girlfriend is a hack journalist whose ‘work’ even the Sun shouldn’t be publishing. You lost, not because you are bad people, but because you don’t tell the truth.