POLITICS

Ford On Chicago Trip: 'Toronto Is An Easy Product To Sell' (PHOTOS)

09/20/2012 10:28 EDT | Updated 11/20/2012 05:12 EST
AP
Mayor Rob Ford returns to Toronto today after wrapping up a two-day trade mission to Chicago that he says was a big success.

The goal of the trip was to generate increased trade and business opportunities between the two cities, but there were no immediate dividends — no deals were signed and no firm commitments made by Chicago businesses.

Ford says it will take a few months to know exactly what kind of business this trip will generate.

"A lot of people have come up to me and said, 'Wow, I've already made so many contacts in less than 24 hours.' And that's what it's about," he said.

"Coming from a business background, you have to be a mover and a shaker and go out and knock on doors and you've got to sell your product. And Toronto is an easy product to sell."

'You can expense a trip'

Questions about the cost of the trip arose on Wednesday. Ford had said the trip wouldn't cost city taxpayers a cent, and indeed, he paid his own way.

But eight councillors who accompanied Ford on the trade mission are expected to use their office budgets to cover the trip.

Coun. Michael Thompson told reporters he wouldn't be paying for the trip out of his own pocket. Coun. Peter Milczyn also says it's a legitimate use of city funds.

"I'm putting it through my office budget. I was asked by the mayor's office to participate in the mission. So I agreed. We have a council expense policy that says for legitimate business purposes, you can expense a trip," he said.

"We're here promoting Toronto, promoting jobs ... that's what we're supposed to do."

During the trip, Ford and his Chicago counterpart Rahm Emanuel re-signed their 1992 sister city agreement, which now includes an additional commitment to enter into "a more business-oriented partnership."

The two met for 30 minutes and talked about trade, but also compared notes on things like city management and trash collection.

"He's a really funny guy. he's quick-witted," said Ford of his counterpart.

Ford on Wednesday also attended a luncheon with U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobsen, had a tour of the city's waterfront, and met with several Chicago businesspeople at a breakfast.

The Chicago trip is only the second foreign trip for Ford since becoming mayor in 2010.

Last year he travelled to Guadalajara, Mexico as part of the Toronto Pan American Games delegation.

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