Donald Trump Jr. makes no apologies for his father's controversial remarks that have prompted accusations of racism and xenophobia, insisting the family name is worthy of being on downtown Vancouver's skyline.
Mr. Trump, who paid a visit on Thursday to the luxury tower under construction, said the Trump Organization is unfazed by calls from civic leaders to drop the brand name from the condo and hotel building. Vancouver's mayor has described Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, as "hateful" for his comments about Muslims, while another local politician said the building bearing the Trump name would be a "beacon of racism."
Mr. Trump brushed aside such criticism, saying in an interview that he has grown accustomed to the media and activists "twisting" his father's words.
"My father is the only person who could be a true disruptor and this thing could really change the game. And I think that's important," said Mr. Trump, executive vice-president of the Trump Organization, which is the manager for the hotel portion of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver. "What we've seen in the U.S. is there's been a lot of faux outrage created."
He pointed to sold-out condo sales in Vancouver's Trump tower to argue that there is nothing wrong with the family's brand. "We had pretty solid global recognition before this. But I think now, it's off the charts."
All 214 condo units marketed so far have sold out and hotel bookings are brisk, despite controversy about the brand name, Mr. Trump said.
His father has been denounced by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and other civic leaders for fostering what they see as racism and hatred. In December, Mr. Robertson urged the tower's developer, Holborn Group, to dump the Trump name from the 63-storey building on West Georgia Street. "Donald Trump's hateful positions and commentary remind us all of much darker times in our world's past," the mayor wrote in a letter to Holborn president Joo Kim Tiah.
Other critics have expressed their opposition in recent months, including a construction worker at the Trump-branded building who placed the Mexican flag on the high-rise's roof level to protest the Republican candidate's proposal that Mexico pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"There are laws and you have to enforce them, and you have to be able to monitor who's coming into your country, no different than I came in last night," said Mr. Trump, who arrived in Vancouver on Wednesday night. "I had to go through customs. I don't see outrage over the fact that I had to go through customs."
He said the political controversy hasn't hurt the $360-million development, which is slated to open in August. The hotel suites are not for sale in the twisting tower designed by late Canadian architect Arthur Erickson.
There will be 147 hotel rooms as part of the first 22 floors and 218 condo units above the hotel component. Three condo penthouses will be marketed next year. The Trump Organization will also provide services to condo residents, including concierge and security.
"We've got millions of dollars worth of bookings for the hotel when that opens," Mr. Trump said. "And we're going to be employing hundreds of people."
He said career politicians and long-time government insiders haven't been able to reinvigorate the United States. "They haven't ever signed the front of paycheques. My father has done that time and time again. He's got tens of thousands of people whose livelihoods, whose families' well-being, are in his hands – that are dependent on him and the success of his company."
Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, doesn't deserve to be U.S. president, Mr. Trump said. "We get to sort of really redirect our attention towards her. I think she is a very flawed candidate. There's so much smoke and so many instances over her entire career of shadiness and things that shouldn't happen," he said.
Mr. Trump helped kick off the condo and hotel project in 2013 during a visit to Vancouver with his brother Eric, sister Ivanka and their father.
Over the years, Mr. Trump has taken holidays in British Columbia, including skiing, fishing and mountain biking in the Whistler area. "Now, with five kids, it's a little harder to get away," he said.