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09 Feb

Spectrum’s LGBTQ+ Leadership Series

February 9, 2018

SPPG’s Spectrum reflects on their recent event featuring Kristyn Wong-Tam and George Smitherman on leadership.

Spectrum leadership standing with their featured speakers.

Spectrum hosted two prominent members of the LGBTQ+ communities at SPPG on January 15, 2015 to highlight successful LGBTQ+ leaders in the field of public policy: Kristyn Wong-Tam and George Smitherman.  Kristyn Wong-Tam is a Toronto City Councillor representing Ward 27.  George Smitherman is Ontario’s first elected openly-gay MPP and Cabinet Minister, and also served as the Deputy Premier of Ontario.

Wong-Tam spoke passionately about the importance of data collection and budgets in governance and policy-making.  “Everything comes down to budgets,” said Wong-Tam at one point.  She spoke extensively about her role in increasing shelter space in Toronto as the city experiences extreme cold this winter.  She discussed frustration with being the token voice for diversity amongst her peers, and hoped that allies become more willing to be more intentional in improving lives for disadvantaged populations.

Smitherman discussed LGBTQ+ history in the Ontario legislature and his days as a member of the provincial parliament.  He discussed his passion for public service and how he felt energized to re-enter public life after a few years in the private sector.  He spoke about the privilege of holding office and the ability to leverage resources to lift up communities and people.  He advocated for policy makers to be bold and take risks, saying that many small incremental changes do not add up to bold transformation.  

The event was a tremendous success.  Approximately 50% or more of the attendees were unaffiliated with SPPG.  Spectrum is proud to contribute to SPPG’s mission to be a hub of policy discourse and collaboration.  Spectrum was also proud to collaborate with other SPPG student initiatives to share our guests’ experiences and insights more broadly, with an upcoming article in the Public Policy and Governance Review as well as an upcoming interview in Beyond the Headlines.

This Spectrum event was organized by Marvin JS Ferrer, Rachel Robinson, Kyle Anderson Muir, and Nikola Brcic-Bello. Spectrum thanks the School of Public Policy and Governance as well as the David Peterson Leadership Fund. for funding and logistic support.