Hamilton’s Deputy Mayor goes overseas to promote city to businesses

Hamilton Deputy Mayor Donal Smith is attending an overseas conference to promote the city as a destination to do business — after accusing International Business of destroying the social fabric of the Island.

Mr Smith is heading up a four-man Corporation of Hamilton delegation attending the World Summit of Mayors in Cali, Colombia. The conference kicked off on Thursday with the aim of “generating economic, cultural, social, academic and spiritual integration” among community leaders who are either African or of African descent.

The Bermuda contingent will be off Island for ten days to attend the eight day conference, which is expected to cost the Corporation up to $100,000. Alderman Carlton Simmons and councilors Troy Symonds and George Scott are also attending along with an interpreter.

Appearing as a guest on the ‘Issues’ current affairs television programme on Thursday night, Mr Smith blasted International Business, saying that it had contributed to the fragmentation of Bermuda’s social fabric.

“We went and flirted with some girl who looked good called IB and what we got was greener grass — but it was astroturf,” he told presenter Richard Smith.

The programme, in which the Deputy Mayor also attacked homosexuals and supporters of gay marriage, was recorded before Mr Smith flew to South America to attend the summit.

According to the summit’s website, “ethnicity governance and economic development” are proposed as its central themes.

“This key theme aims to enhance trade relations between cities and territories that benefit populations in Africa or of African descent,” the website said.

This key theme is intended to address the comparative and competitive advantages of the territories with a majority population from Africa or of African descent, in areas such as mining and energy development, trade, tourism and environment, among others.

“We will carry out business meetings, entrepreneurial events, and commercial rapprochement between mayors and businessmen.”

The website also states that the conference plans to set up an Agreement of Intent to “establish a network of cities for trade and cultural exchange from the local level”.

And the summit will “initiate business between businessmen and women, entrepreneurs and regions deriving from the business meetings scheduled on the agenda of the summit”.

Representatives from Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), were listed as guest speakers at the meeting.

Last night Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy condemned Mr Smith’s comments, saying that they were potentially damaging to Bermuda’s reputation as a place to do business.

“His commentary regarding International Business is completely unacceptable, especially given the value of the industry to Bermuda’s economy,” Sen Fahy said.

“As Deputy Mayor, the reputational risks associated with all these comments is potentially quite damaging to Bermuda.”

The Minister also said that Mr Smith’s attack on homosexuality was “shocking”.

Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons added that, as a public figure, Mr Smith’s comments on International Business were “completely inappropriate and off-base”.

Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge yesterday moved to distance the Corporation from Mr Smith’s remarks, saying that they “in no way reflect the thinking and sentiments of the Council of the City of Hamilton”.

SOURCE : RoyalGazette.com