Only Smitherman can go to China (on China’s dime)

Only Smitherman can go to China (on China’s dime)

Pit bull in China: George Smitherman among those headed to the People's Republic (Image: Shaun Merritt) 

The Chinese government is holding a Mayor’s Forum on Tourism and has invited (according to its Web site) 222 representatives from cities all over the planet. The Chinese consulate in Toronto made a curious selection in its local representative for the all-expenses-paid trip: George Smitherman. His opponents in the mayor’s race are none too pleased, going so far as to say Smitherman will owe the Chinese favours after this. Furious George doesn’t see it this way, natch.

The Globe and Mail reports:

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who is also running for mayor, criticized the consulate for apparently choosing one candidate over the others.

“They’re not very good diplomats. There’s an election going on here, and they’re obviously not paying attention to the race,” he said, adding that it was inappropriate for Mr. Smitherman to accept the invitation.

“The question becomes: what do you owe them at the end of the day if you become the mayor?”

Mammoliti is, if anything, being too generous: clearly Smitherman is actually a Chinese mole sent to destabilize Canadian politics from within. He’s being called back to be briefed on his latest mission: securing Beijing’s global power by taking control of a ridiculous political system running a cash-strapped city that can’t afford to run the subways it has, much less build new ones. It may appear to Canadians that this plan is ridiculous, but that’s what they’re counting on.

Sarcasm aside, it may actually be possible that Smitherman just accepted a free invitation to see some of the world’s largest, most dynamic cities and perhaps get some insight into how other countries are running their municipalities. One might even argue that this sort of thing should be expected down the line for one of the world’s most diverse cities.

Either way, don’t ask him to play a game of cards until this has been sorted out.

• China paying for George Smitherman’s trip to ‘mayors forum’ [Toronto Star]
• Candidates cry foul as Smitherman accepts Chinese invitation [Globe and Mail]