The same day Italy announced a nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus, Toronto Mayor John Tory quietly boarded a plane for a two-day, $21,700 European trade mission.
The trade mission, cut short and poorly attended due to COVID-19, cost the city $7,800 in travel expenses, $6,900 in accommodation and $7,000 in receptions.
The Toronto Sun had previously reported Tory was accompanied by two mayor’s office staff, economic development official Mike Williams, as well as city tourism and business representatives.
Non-city ‘Team Toronto’ members paid their own way, the report states.
The Sun has requested the mayor’s office provide a list of those accommodated under the city’s $21,700 travel tab.
The mission’s objectives, says the report, included promoting Toronto as a global business, research and financial hub for the U.K. and world, particularity in the wake of Brexit.
The two-day trip was jam-packed with receptions, conference calls and political gladhanding, including a meeting with London’s deputy mayor, an unnamed U.K. MP and a Come from Away pre-reception “including two guests from Gander.”
As for outcomes, the report lists out of six foreign investment leads: Three are “actively considering” opening Toronto offices, and two are “considering” opening research and development facilities in the city.
Tory was criticized at the time for taking the trip — which lacked the usual pre-promotion of previous trade missions — due to the growing threat of coronavirus.
Tory told CP24 on March 10 that trade missions are vital to marketing Toronto to foreign investors.
“We have to carry on attracting jobs to Toronto,” he said.
“We’ve got 70,000 people coming to the city every year, thank goodness, and we have to have places for them to work.”
Tory’s trip occurred in the midst of growing worldwide panic over COVID-19.