Ontario Premier Doug Ford distanced himself Wednesday from a Toronto woman known for her extreme views following repeated Opposition questions about a photograph he took with her.
Ford had been asked for three consecutive days at the legislature to denounce Faith Goldy, a former journalist and now controversial Toronto mayoral candidate, but had only said he was against hate speech.
In a brief statement posted on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, the premier mentioned Goldy by name.
“I have been clear,” Ford wrote. “I condemn hate speech, anti-Semitism and racism in all forms — be it from Faith Goldy or anyone else.”
Shortly after Ford’s tweet, Goldy issued one of her own.
“Proud to stand up for all Canadians alongside ya, Doug!” she wrote.
Goldy and her supporters had posed for a photograph with the premier over the weekend at an annual gathering known as Ford Fest.
The NDP had pressed Ford repeatedly to condemn Goldy after the event, saying she promotes white nationalist views and supports neo-Nazis.
In response, Ford had voiced his opposition to hate speech in general.
“I totally denounce — I repeat denounce, denounce, denounce — anyone who wants to talk hate speech,” he had said in the legislature Tuesday.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath had said Ford needed to address the issue directly.
“The reality is the premier was taking pictures with someone who is a self-proclaimed white supremacist, someone who is tied to neo-Nazi groups,” she said. “The leader of our province should be very vocal in distancing himself from this woman.”
Earlier in the day the NDP legislator Laura Mae Lindo asked the head of the government’s anti-racism directorate, Minister Michael Tibollo, if he believed Ford should denounce Goldy, adding that the woman’s photo with the premier was being used as a “de facto endorsement of her (mayoral) campaign by the premier.”
Tibollo said there is no place for racism in the province and the government is actively pursing policies to fight it.
“I would encourage you and I encourage anyone else interested in pursuing those issues, really pursuing the issues, not to try to gain political advantage in a situation where it’s not necessary, to work with us and find a solution that is good for the entire province,” Tibollo told the NDP legislator. “That’s what we should be doing.”