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Updated: Sun, 02 Mar 2014 20:27:43 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Rob Ford went to L.A. 'to promote and sell Toronto'



Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has had a busy few days -- first taking a trip to Ottawa, then making a surprise trip to Los Angeles. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has had a busy few days -- first taking a trip to Ottawa, then making a surprise trip to Los Angeles. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

Mayor Rob Ford may have taken a sudden trip to fly to Hollywood to attend an Oscar party hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and appear on a talk show, but Toronto’s controversial chief magistrate insists he is just doing his job.

"I'm here to promote and sell Toronto," Ford told CBC News in a telephone interview on Sunday from Los Angeles.

The mayor said he has been stopped "hundreds of times" for pictures with people he has met since landing in Los Angeles on Saturday, all the while promoting his hometown of Hollywood North.

"Obviously, I’m down here to stimulate our economy, to make Hollywood North even bigger and better than what it is now,” Ford said. "And I look forward to meeting the movers and shakers in Hollywood and telling them: 'Come to Toronto, it's an absolutely beautiful city.'"

The mayor, whose arrival in Los Angeles was covered by the popular entertainment news website TMZ, was asked by CBC News if his snap trip to Tinseltown went against his image of being an everyman.

"I'm just an average, hard-working guy, that's exactly what I am," he said.

On Twitter, some users questioned how effective the mayor’s trip would be in promoting the city:

Airport greeting

When Ford arrived in Los Angeles yesterday, he was greeted by Kimmel, whose show the Toronto mayor will be appearing on tomorrow night.

Kimmel was dressed up as a limo driver and held a sign that read "FORD."

Ford then told reporters that he would "love to" attend the Oscars ceremony on Sunday, though his brother told CBC News on Sunday that they will actually be going to an Oscar party.

"I hear Jimmy Kimmel has the best Oscar parties there are, so we are going to head over there and meet him in a few hours," Coun. Doug Ford told CBC News in a telephone interview.

Like the mayor, he told CBC News that "the purpose" of the U.S. trip was to promote Toronto.

"Tourism Toronto must be doing cartwheels getting all this free advertising and that’s the purpose of the trip," he said.

The mayor’s brother said that they were paying for part of their trip, while Kimmel’s show was covering part of the trip. Coun. Ford said that "taxpayers are not paying for a penny of it."

Randy Ford, the mayor's other brother, was also in Los Angeles, along with Rob and Doug.

The mayor’s trip to L.A. caught the attention of several of his fellow city councillors, who tweeted about it:

Tweets from Tinseltown

On Sunday, Mayor Ford tweeted a series of pictures from his Los Angeles trip. They included images of him working out on a treadmill, a picture of Michael J. Fox’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the mayor talking to someone from CNN.

The story of Ford’s crack-use denial and eventual admission to having smoked crack have been covered by media around the world, including in the U.S. Many late-night comedians, including Kimmel, have poked fun at the mayor as a result.

Ford has said that after many requests, he has agreed to go on Kimmel’s show after a personal appeal from the host.

"He personally called me on my cellphone to invite me down here," Ford told CBC News.

While Ford will be going to Kimmel’s Sunday night party and appearing on his show on Monday, it isn’t the first time the mayor of Toronto has had a brush with a celebrity. Comedian Dave Chapelle dropped by his office at Toronto City Hall a couple of years ago and Ford had arm-wrestle with Hulk Hogan last year. Also just a day after Ford admitted to having smoked crack, another former professional wrestler challenged the mayor to a separate arm wrestle.

There could even be a Ford-related movie one day, given that a film company has purchased the rights to Robyn Doolitte’s Crazy Town — a book that covers the mayor’s rise to prominence and the drug scandal that has enveloped his office over the past 10 months.

The mayor is currently in the midst of running for re-election in Toronto. He has defied calls to step down in the wake of the drug-related scandal that made him a subject of international interest.

Ford is facing an increasingly crowded field of more than two-dozen candidates who are seeking his job in the Oct. 27 election. Former Ontario PC leader John Tory, Coun. Karen Stintz and former councillor David Soknacki are among the candidates who are running against him.

Ford, a 44-year-old married father of two, is in the fourth year of his mayoral term. He spent 10 years serving as a city councillor before he was elected mayor in 2010.

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