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British Columbia Vancouver, Toronto councillors urge cities to alter names of Trump towers

Toronto councillor Josh Matlow is asking the owners of the Trump-branded tower in his city to look at finding a way to remove the name.

Joe O'Connal/THE CANADIAN PRESS

When Vancouver developer Joo Kim Tiah worked out a deal to add the Trump name and brand to his new 63-storey hotel-condo tower on Georgia Street two years ago, it was a cause for celebration.

Today, not so much. Politicians, city advocates and many among the general public say U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has become so offensive that Canada's developers who aligned themselves with his brand should drop the name.

Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang wrote to Mr. Tiah – CEO of the Holborn Group, which developed the tower – on Tuesday morning, urging him to get the Trump name off his not-quite-completed tower. The Trump company is supposed to manage the 147 rooms in the hotel. Mr. Jang's request came after a Monday speech by Mr. Trump calling for all Muslims to be banned from entering the United States.

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"When I heard what Donald Trump said yesterday, I was absolutely shocked and appalled," Mr. Jang said. "It's reprehensible."

He said he thinks it's important, symbolically, for Vancouver to reject the name and Mr. Trump's views. "We're not a city that stands for racism," he added.

The city doesn't have the power to unilaterally order any business to take a name off a building, although it can regulate the look, size and placement of elaborate signs.

Mr. Jang warned that the Trump tower could give Mr. Tiah a black eye, just as he is about to face public scrutiny next year with his proposed rezoning of the huge Little Mountain site in central Vancouver.

The councillor was joined in his call Tuesday by a former Vancouver chief planner who oversaw the Trump tower's city approvals.

"The message that [Mr. Trump] is saying doesn't match our value system," Brent Toderian said. "We shouldn't have his name on our second-most prominent tower in the city."

That same call is happening across the country.

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A Toronto councillor is also asking the owners of the Trump-branded tower in his city to look at finding a way to remove the name. Talon International owns the 68-storey Trump tower.

"I am writing a letter asking them to change the name," said Josh Matlow, the councillor for a north Toronto ward far from the location of the downtown tower.

Like Mr. Jang, he think it's important to send a strong signal that Canadians won't tolerate the messages Mr. Trump is delivering.

"All of us in our own way want to push back," said Mr. Matlow, who called Mr. Trump's recent comments about Muslims "the definition of fascism."

Mr. Matlow said he'd also like to see Mr. Trump pay a price for what he is saying, by hitting him in his real estate empire.

"He certainly seems to be the type of person who cares more about his fortune than others. I hope anyone around the world might reconsider their association with him and his brand."

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A public relations company acting for Talon International sent out a statement Tuesday saying its holdings have nothing to do with Mr. Trump.

"Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto is owned by Talon International Development Inc., a privately held real estate development company based in Toronto, Canada," the statement said. "The Trump organization is the operator of the hotel, not the owner. Donald Trump's opinions as a private citizen in no way reflect the position of our company's views."

Mr. Tiah was on a flight to Asia all day and couldn't be reached for comment.

Not all councillors are joining the campaign to get the Trump name removed. Some say companies will likely make that decision themselves if the brand is damaged enough.

"Holborn thought they were getting gold and it's turned to lead," Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs said. "I think it's a real problem for them. The last time I heard, high-end five-star hotels cater to international travellers, including people from the Middle East."

Councillor George Affleck said he didn't think it was the city's place to tell a business owner what to do, although he agreed that Mr. Trump is becoming "a marketing challenge the hotel will have."

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The Canadian councillors' remarks follow a statement from several American mayors, saying they would "ban" Mr. Trump or that they'd like to.

The mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., Rick Kriseman, tweeted Monday that "I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps."

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