Supporters of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford have lashed out at his Hong Kong-born challenger Olivia Chow, branding her a traitor and "Chairman Chow" after she urged Torontonians living in the SAR to help unseat him.
The backlash came after Chow said in an interview with the South China Morning Post on Thursday that Hong Kong's numerous Torontonians shared the "sense of shame" that came with having a crack-smoking mayor, and those eligible to vote in October's municipal elections had the chance to help restore pride to Canada's biggest city.
Watch: Hong Kong-born Olivia Chow’s campaign ad
But supporters of the conservative Ford - whose antics have drawn international attention since it was revealed last year that he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine - cried foul and said Chow's bid for votes in Hong Kong was unethical.
"If you're not filing tax returns as a Canadian resident, then you shouldn't be able to vote in ANY Canadian election. Sounds as if Ms Chow wants our elections to be decided by outsiders who want the benefits of Canadian citizenship without helping pay the costs of same," wrote "Frances" on a blog posting titled, "Chairman Chow asks passports of convenience in the South China Morning Post: Help me defeat Rob Ford".
The posting was accompanied by an image of Chow with a Mao cap photoshopped on her.
The same site carried a comment from "Raymond Hietapakka" who said of Chow: "This banana [yellow on the outside, white on the inside] plays a cheap political race card for votes. What if Bo-Bo [Ford] had said, 'Hey, Vote for Me, 'cause I'm white, jus' like you?'"
The original Post story  was shared on Facebook more than 2,600 times by both supporters and opponents of Chow.
Some Twitter users called the left-leaning Chow, 57, a "traitor" and "shameless" for seeking votes from Torontonians living in Hong Kong.
The furore triggered a debate on CBC radio in Toronto on Thursday, with the producers of the Here and Now drive-time show devoting a segment to the question: "Should Canadian citizens who don't actually live here be allowed to vote in our municipal election?"
According to Toronto's election guide, non-resident Canadian citizens are eligible to vote in the October 27 election so long as they or their spouse owns or rents property in the city.
A spokeswoman for the Toronto City Clerk's office said yesterday that non-resident voters in the municipal polls may cast ballots by appointing a proxy who is an eligible resident voter.
Non-resident voters must first make sure they are on the electoral roll in the appropriate district. Unregistered voters must lodge an application, which is available via the Elections Canada website or at the Canadian Consulate General.
Proxy voting forms will then be mailed to eligible voters who contact the Toronto City Clerk's office after September 12.
Non-resident Canadian citizens generally retain the right to vote, so long as they have lived overseas for less than five consecutive years and intend to return to live in Canada. By voting, overseas Canadian citizens do not lose non-resident status.
Chow, the widow of New Democratic Party and opposition leader Jack Layton, emigrated to Canada with her family in 1970.
The Asia Pacific Foundation found there were about 295,000 Canadians in Hong Kong in 2010, most of them returnee migrants. A conservative estimate of the number of current or former Torontonians in Hong Kong would reach 100,000, although it is not clear how many of these are eligible voters.