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Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.

As Amazon holds court, Canadian leaders line up to kiss the ring: Mochama

Who wouldn’t want their democratically-elected mayor to perform such a darling routine for the House of Kindle and Prime?

Canadian mayors lining up to woo Amazon are carrying on a noble tradition of curtsies and carriage rides, writes Vicky Mochama.

David Ryder/Getty Images / Getty Images North America

Canadian mayors lining up to woo Amazon are carrying on a noble tradition of curtsies and carriage rides, writes Vicky Mochama.

The search for Amazon’s second global headquarters is on, and every city wants in.

Toronto called it “the Olympics of the corporate world.” It’s a bad metaphor: fewer cities want to spend untold billions on one month of sports.

I say the Amazon Hunt resembles something much older: the court presentation, a now-ended tradition of the English monarchy.

In it, the noblest, fairest and richest women would get a chance to kiss the hand of the monarch. Done well, it could mean great riches for a girl’s family; done poorly, the women faced the dungeon or a firing squad.

Well, not really, but wouldn’t it add some really high stakes to the whole thing?

If they failed at hand-kissing/looking virginal, they were doomed to marry the third son of an earl or – heaven forbid – becoming an interesting, independent woman.

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Fast forward just over a century to today. According to the Chicago Tribune, there are currently 100 cities vying to curtsy for Her Majesty of Books and Things, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the Washington Post and Whole Foods.

Amazon’s request requires city leaders put on their silk gloves and feathers.

While many of the usual houses of American nobility are attending this presentation – Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, to name a few – there are also a few foreign princesses, including pretty much every Canadian city.

Back in the glorious days of Empire (uh, if you ignore some stuff), this wasn’t a dainty afternoon of fun. This was the Olympics of Being A Rich Lady. Just to get invited, a list was carefully drawn up of women who, according to the now-defunct edwardianpromenade.com, were “those who ‘wore the white flower of a blameless life.’”

On the day of, the debutantes waited in their carriages and then leapt from them to do more waiting without food or water. If she made it, then she got to kiss the queen’s hand and leave.

Who wouldn’t want their democratically-elected mayor to perform such a darling routine for the House of Kindle and Prime?

It’s not just the typical ladies-in-waiting like Toronto and Montreal who are lacing up their bodices. On CBC's The Current, Halifax’s mayor said of his city's bid, "What somebody sees as crazy, somebody else sees as possible and somebody else says, 'Let’s try it.'"

That is precisely the perfectly charming and clever attitude that wins the heart of an earl — not a future king.

(Not that I don’t believe in Halifax's dreams. I'm still of the opinion that Wallis Simpson was the rightful queen.)

But it’s unlikely to sway the royal equerries at Amazon who are narrowing down the list.

In the end, the winner won’t be chosen by their kiss (“we’re a diverse city!”) or their curtsy (“we have a transit system!”).

Like a proper noble house, Amazon will choose for one reason only: Cash is king.

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