WATCH: Doug Ford is booed for comments made on Toronto’s Jewish community at a debate Sunday night.
TORONTO – Doug Ford received a round of boos at a mayoral debate Sunday night after attempting to distance himself from alleged anti-Semitic comments his brother Rob made months ago.
Mayoral candidate Ari Goldkind took Ford to task when the candidates were asked what they would do to make Toronto a safer community for the Jewish community.
The debate was hosted by the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
“I would start on the issue of anti-Semitism by not having a mayor who refers to us, the people in this room, the Jewish people in this room, with a derogatory name that starts with K,” Goldkind said, referencing an alleged audio recording of Mayor Rob uttering racial slurs.
The mayor, despite his health condition, was in attendance for his brother’s debate and sat in the front row.
“The fact that he insulted my religion whether it was under the influence or not, we cannot have a mayor like that because that is where it starts.”
Doug Ford replied by saying his brother’s remarks were unacceptable but tried to highlight the links between his family and the Jewish community, which received a cold response from the crowd.
“I’m not going to address that comment,” Mr. Ford said. “But you know something? My doctor, my Jewish doctor, my Jewish lawyer – hold it – my Jewish accountant.”
It didn’t get easier for Ford with many in the audience yelling following the remark.
“Let me finish please,” said Ford. “My family has the utmost respect for the Jewish community. The utmost respect. And we look forward to working with the Jewish community as we have for the last four years.”
Following the debate, Ford left without responding to questions from the media.
John Tory’s campaign released a statement shortly after condemning Ford’s comments.
“While attempting to defend Rob Ford’s inexcusable comments about Jewish people, Doug Ford used the classic refuge of racists, anti-Semites and homophobes,” the statement read.
“Instead of answering questions about it following the debate, Doug ran. That is shameful behaviour from an elected official, let alone someone seeking to lead a diverse and inclusive city like Toronto.”
Doug was infuriated about Tory’s statement when he appeared on AM640 with Lorne Honickman Monday morning.
“He released a statement calling me a racist, anti-Semitic. He was implying that. It’s very clear,” Ford said. “This is John Tory and I demand an apology.”
“My wife is Jewish. Her mother, her family is Jewish. She was insulated last night after seeing the comments.”
LISTEN: Doug Ford addresses anti-semitism controversy on AM640
Ford went on further to clarify his comments made during the debate Sunday.
“My point is I’ve had a long term relationship with the Jewish community,” Ford said on radio.
“I said in the public numerous times his [Rob Ford] comments were unacceptable and inexcusable. They want to paint me in the same picture.”
Ford also questioned Goldkind’s participation in the event.
“Is he the hand chosen person out of 55 people to show up at this debate? Why aren’t we including every one Lorne,” he said.
“It’s ironic that the organizers are being exclusive.”