Toronto Mayor John Tory and Montreal counterpart Denis Coderre have inked an ambitious partnership to give the cities a bigger voice in attracting business, dealing with Ottawa — and helping professional baseball return to the former home of the Expos.
Tucked into the agreement amidst pledges of economic, social and environmental co-operation is a clause aiming to re-ignite the Montreal-Toronto baseball rivalry of old.
Coderre has been pressing Major League Baseball to bring back a team to fill the void left by the Expos, who headed south to Washington in 2004.
“We have fun in hockey. We tried to help him by not making the (playoff) series this year… That tremendous rivalry (and) friendship I think should also be provided in baseball,” Coderre said Saturday next to Tory in Montreal.
Tory has now been drafted into Montreal’s baseball revival campaign, with the agreement seeing Toronto vow to help promote the sport there.
“The dream of a World Series involving the Toronto Blue Jays and the Montreal Expos never came about. I think it’s time that we got back to making an opportunity for that,” Tory said.
The pair then swapped gifts — Tory handing Coderre a Maurice Richard portrait, Coderre giving Tory a baseball bat.
They’ll also be taking to the field for a Blue Jays’ spring training game with the Boston Red Sox that afternoon at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, where Coderre will throw the first pitch while Tory plays umpire.
The agreement has been in the works since Coderre visited Toronto last year.
It will allow the two cities to share information on issues of mutual interest including governance, jobs, affordable housing, sustainability and transportation.
“What we have figured out in this competitive world is that the competition for jobs, for investment and for progress on sustainable development and social development is not between Montreal and Toronto,” Tory told reporters. “Our goals will be best achieved when we work together and put the resources of the country’s two biggest cities together to get things done.”
Coderre said that since the world’s agenda is increasingly set by cities, it makes sense for Canada’s two largest municipalities to team up.
“If we put our efforts together to put more food on the table, more jobs, more headquarters, better services, I think that’s the focus,” he said.
Coderre and Tory say they also plan to take joint trade missions overseas with the goal of attracting economic investment to both their cities.
“Montreal and Toronto together represent an unbelievable global powerhouse to take out to the rest of the world and sell as places to invest,” Tory said.
With files from The Canadian Press