Premier Doug Ford has repeatedly refused to distance himself from Faith Goldy, instead accusing the New Democrats of reaching a “new low” in asking about a weekend photo that shows him with the far-right Toronto mayoral candidate and her supporters.
Asked twice in the legislature Monday to denounce Goldy, and the photo taken at the annual Ford Fest barbecue in Vaughan on Saturday night, Ford did not.
“If (the NDP) were at Ford Fest — it’s the most diverse group anywhere in Canada — anywhere — of every race, of every creed, of every colour, of every religion and every political stripe. There’s no group in the entire country that represents Toronto and Ontario more than Ford Nation does,” the premier said.
“I can’t help when thousands of people are coming at you and they’re taking pictures right, left and centre.”
Ford did not receive a standing ovation from PC MPPs following his remarks in the legislature, as he typically does from his enthusiastic benches. A few looked visibly uncomfortable with the premier’s response.
Goldy was trending on Twitter after crashing a mayoral debate Monday morning. She posted a number of photos from Ford Fest, saying it was the sixth she’s attended.
She captioned another photo: “Faith Nation IS Ford Nation.”
Goldy was fired by Rebel Media last year after she went to Charlottesville, Virginia to cover the Unite The Right rally, then appeared on The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website. She later said she opposes “state multiculturalism and affirmative action. That does not make me a racist.
“I reject cultural relativism. That does not make me a fascist.”
New Democrat MPP Jill Andrew (Toronto-St. Paul’s) said Goldy “has clearly used this photo with the premier to claim … legitimacy.”
Community Safety Minister Michael Tibollo told reporters that, with so many people at Ford Fest, it’s difficult to know who is posing for photos.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark said, “I think we need to denounce things like that just across the board.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she was “shocked” Ford didn’t denounce Goldy.
Former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne said “I thought he would just stand up and distance himself from her.
“She is a very, very dangerous person in our society. Her ideas, her actions are dangerous,” Wynne said. “I was surprised he didn’t just stand up and say: ‘I want nothing to do with this person.’”
Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims said “if Premier Ford truly wishes to create a ‘government for the people,’ then he must categorically reject the hateful and divisive ideas of those, like Ms. Goldy, which unapologetically elevate one kind of people or racial group over the rest at the expense of our diversity and sense of community and inclusion.
“We urge Premier Ford to issue a clear statement distancing himself and his party from the bigoted views promoted by Ms. Goldy and her fellow travellers.”
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said “it’s one thing to be at an event and have a photo taken with people … that happens all the time. But for her to essentially be using it as an endorsement from the premier? For him to not distance himself from that is disappointing.”
In August, Toronto police came under fire after two officers were photographed with Goldy as she was out campaigning. The officers said they had no idea who she was, or that she was running for mayor.
With files from Robert Benzie
Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy