On a rare foreign business trip next month, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will be meeting with his Chicago counterpart Rahm Emanuel, the famously tough-talking former chief of staff to President Barack Obama.
Mr. Ford and Mr. Emanuel are scheduled to sit down for a one-hour meeting Sept. 19, according to Councillor Doug Ford, who is helping organize a trade mission to the Illinios city.
“[Mr. Emanuel] has met his match with Rob Ford,” the councillor joked. “It’ll be putting two lions in the cage. Rob’s a little bigger.”
The councillor said the pair are expected to sign a symbolic co-operative agreement, the details of which are still being hammered out.
Councillor Ford also confirmed that George Cohon, the founder of McDonald’s Canada, and Robert Deluce, the president of Porter Airlines, will act as co-chairs for the trade mission, which the councillor predicts could attract as many as 100 Toronto businesspeople looking to strengthen or start relationships in Chicago.
Every delegate will pay his or her own way, including the Mayor, Councillor Ford added. The group is planning to watch the Chicago Cubs play the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field the evening of Sept. 19.
The trade mission is a departure for Mayor Ford, who has generally avoided travelling outside of Toronto on official business because of the costs.
Councillor Ford said he believes his younger brother will gain “experience” speaking with Mr. Emanuel, a political veteran who previously served as a U.S. congressman and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton.
“He’s a great guy,” Councillor Ford said of Mr. Emanuel.“He’s very similar to Rob. He has to look at putting the financial ship back in order in Chicago and he’s doing it.”
The councillor is an unabashed fan of Chicago, a city he visits frequently as head of the Ford family printing company. Deco Labels and Tags has a Chicago location, but the company isn’t expected to figure prominently in the trade mission.
Mayor Ford’s office was tight-lipped about the meeting with Mr. Emanuel. “There will be an announcement forthcoming,” said George Christopoulos, the mayor’s press secretary. “At this point I can’t confirm any details.”
Mayor Emanuel’s office did not return calls seeking comment on the meeting.