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Doug Ford stands behind controversial remarks: ‘I stick with what I said’

Click to play video: 'Premier Doug Ford says he won’t apologize over his controversial remarks'
Premier Doug Ford says he won’t apologize over his controversial remarks
WATCH - Premier Doug Ford says he won’t apologize over his controversial remarks – May 31, 2024

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Friday he is standing behind controversial remarks he made the day prior despite facing calls to apologize.

On Thursday, Ford accused people of bringing “problems from everywhere else in the world” to the province after a recent shooting at a Toronto Jewish girls school.

Toronto police told Global News on Thursday the investigation remains ongoing, and no arrests have been made.

There is no indication from police at this time that any of the suspects involved were immigrants, as Ford appeared to suggest, adding: “Before you plan on moving to Canada — don’t come to Canada if you’re going to start terrorizing neighbourhoods like this.”

Click to play video: 'Ford says he loves ‘every single community equally’ amid fallout over remarks'
Ford says he loves ‘every single community equally’ amid fallout over remarks

On Thursday afternoon, Ford said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he meant to stress “there is more that unites us than divides us.” Police later said it does not track and or disclose the immigration status of suspects or victims.

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Ford told Global News on Friday though that his phone is “blowing up” with people telling him he was “bang on.”

“I stick with what I said. We’re tired of lawlessness from anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re here, you’re new or whatever. It’s very, very clear. My phone is blowing up from every community saying, ‘You’re bang on,’” Ford said following an announcement in Brampton, Ont.

“Enough’s enough. Ninety-nine per cent of everyone gets along, and that’s what I believe in. There’s no premier ever that’s went on the news 10 million times (and said) I want more people coming to Canada. We need the people. I love every single community equally.”

Click to play video: 'Doug Ford blasted for comments appearing to be aimed at immigrants'
Doug Ford blasted for comments appearing to be aimed at immigrants

Ford’s sharp comments on Thursday were made alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference in Toronto, days after students and staff at Rabbi Yaacov Vidal of the Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School said they were shaken by the weekend shooting, but undeterred.

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Ford said his government has “zero tolerance” for these acts, no matter “what race, what religion you’re from.”

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“You’re bringing your problems from everywhere else in the world, you’re bringing it to Ontario and you’re going after other Canadians — as the prime minister said: unacceptable,” he said.

Click to play video: '‘Vile act’: Trudeau, Ford condemn shooting at Toronto Jewish girls school'
‘Vile act’: Trudeau, Ford condemn shooting at Toronto Jewish girls school

Shortly after those comments were made, Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles told Global News that Ford should “apologize” for his “racist” remarks.

“Fighting hate with hate has never worked. Fighting anti-semitism with xenophobia won’t keep communities safe,” she said in a statement.

“I’m appalled by the Premier’s racist remarks. He should apologize.”

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Meanwhile, it’s important Ford knows “words of elected leaders have real world consequences,” said Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s special representative on combatting Islamophobia, in a statement on X.

“Legitimizing irrational fears, scapegoating, or spreading unfounded conspiracies about immigrants, or any group, undermines social cohesion and safety,” she said in part on Thursday.

“We can and should condemn antisemitism and the heinous acts against Jewish schools without fueling further hate and division.”

Hate crimes on the rise

Ford’s comments come amid a rise in apparent hate crimes in Canada, which has amplified in recent months amid Israel’s ongoing conflict against Hamas, which began on Oct. 7, 2023, following an attack by the terrorist group.

The number of antisemitic incidents in Canada more than doubled in 2023 compared with the year prior, according to an annual audit performed by Jewish human rights group B’nai Brith Canada that was released in May.

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The data falls in line with figures collected by Statistics Canada in its annual look at police-reported hate crimes. Since 2019, Jews have been the most targeted religious group based on police data, with 502 incidents in 2022.

Click to play video: '‘Normalization of hate’: B’nai Brith Canada reports dramatic rise in antisemitism'
‘Normalization of hate’: B’nai Brith Canada reports dramatic rise in antisemitism

Muslims are the second most targeted group, with 108 police-reported hate crimes in 2022. According to a November 2023 Senate report on Islamophobia, an additional 1,723 crimes were motivated by racial or ethnic hatred involving Muslim people in 2021.

New figures released by Toronto police on Friday showed a 47 per cent increase in reported hate crimes in the city last year, with the Jewish community, 2SLGBTQ+ community, Black community and Muslim community being the most frequently victimized groups.

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