TORONTO (JTA) – Toronto mayoral candidate Doug Ford drew boos and jeers from a Jewish audience while trying to defend his brother, the current mayor, Rob Ford.
Doug Ford during a candidates’ debate on Sunday sponsored by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto was trying to distance himself from racist remarks made several months earlier by his brother.
The exchange began when a Jewish candidate, Ari Goldkind, said he could not stay silent about the comments made by Rob Ford in March that included cursing and pejoratives for Jews, blacks and Italians.
Asked about containing anti-Semitism, Goldkind said, “I would start 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. 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 said his brother, whose term in office has been plagued by allegations of drug and alcohol abuse, had apologized for the slurs.
“I have told him very clearly that it was unacceptable and inexcusable,” he said.
Doug Ford added: “You know something, my doctor, my Jewish doctor, my Jewish dentist, my Jewish lawyer, my Jewish … accountant,” he began, as booing nearly drowned him out.
“We’ve known, our family, can you please, please let me finish. Our family has the utmost respect. Let me finish. Please. My family has the utmost respect for the Jewish community, and we look forward to working with the Jewish community, as we have for the last four years.”
The Toronto UJA Federation’s campaign director, Steve Shulman, told the Globe and Mail that Doug Ford’s response was phrased “maybe in an inelegant way,” but he commended the four candidates for agreeing there was no place in the city for such bigotry.
Last month, Rob Ford announced that he would not seek re-election because of a cancer diagnosis. At the last minute his brother, a city councilman, said he would run for mayor.