The mayors of Canada's urban centres will be gathering in the nation's capital on Wednesday to discuss infrastructure, housing and the economy.
Attending the meeting for the first time will be the scandal-plagued Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who plans to run for re-election later this year. Ford said he's taking part in the Big City Mayors' Caucus because he wants to advocate for funding for his city.
``We have to get this money, that's what people want,'' Ford said at a news conference Tuesday, explaining he wanted financial support for new subways and better community housing. ``That's why I'm going to Ottawa to talk to the other mayors.''
Discussions today are expected to include just how municipalities will vie for a portion of a $14-billion federal infrastructure fund available over the next 10 years. The New Building Canada Fund will be available starting this spring.
How smoothly those discussions will go remains to be seen _ Ford has made it clear he thinks Toronto deserves a large portion of available funds.
Just last month, however, Ford voted against a city council motion which asked the federal government to include funding in its budget for a portion of Toronto housing costs.
When asked about the discrepancy, Ford said he didn't want to ``frustrate our federal colleagues through paperwork.''
``I have my contacts up in Ottawa, they treat us very well,'' he said. ``I look forward to sitting down with the other big city mayors and try to get funding for a housing backlog.''
The mayoral caucus is part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and typically meets two or three times a year.
The FCM says the meeting is a chance for mayors or their representatives to discuss important issues face-to-face before emerging with a common set of priorities they can take to their federal or provincial counterparts.
``When they come together and they speak in one voice, both politicians and the media listen,'' the federation said.
Ford's appearance at the meeting comes after he was stripped of a large portion of his mayoral powers late last year following an admission that he smoked crack cocaine.
The mayor has also drawn criticism over the past months for making profane remarks on live television and being captured on a video going on an incoherent and rambling rant in a Jamaican accent