Doug Ford spoke out against a racist comment made by one of his supporters at Tuesday night's debate, saying "if they want to talk that way, they're not part of this campaign."
During the raucous mayoral debate, an audience member who told the National Post he was a Ford supporter shouted at Ms. Chow, who immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong when she was 13, to "Go home, Olivia! Back to China!"
In a response to questions about the comment Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Ford told reporters that he has "tens of thousands" of supporters, and though he does not know who made the comments, "I don't condone that whatsoever. I don't know who it was, but if they want to talk that way, they're not part of this campaign."
At a debate Wednesday hosted by the C.D. Howe Institute – and after a lone protester appeared outside the building carrying a sign that read "A Chow vote is vote for creeping jihad" – Ms. Chow called the comment "racist."
"Our city always prides ourselves that diversity is our strength," she said. "Maybe the fact that I'm running for office right now is threatening to some people." She said the comment points to bigger issues the city faces, including racial profiling.
Front-runner John Tory also condemned the comment, calling it "unacceptable."
"It's not the way we live here. Again, I think the mayor's job is to make sure you speak up when those kinds of things happen and say it's unacceptable."
Meanwhile, Mr. Ford – who skipped both mayoral debates on Wednesday in favour of holding a news conference at his Etobicoke campaign headquarters – sharpened an attack on Mr. Tory that he had started at Tuesday night's debate.
"Folks, this is not the time for on-the-job training," Mr. Ford said, accusing Mr. Tory of not being ready for the mayor's office.
Mr. Ford also accused Mr. Tory, a former Rogers CEO and commissioner of the CFL, of being "parachuted in" to both of those positions because of his prominent family. "It's who John Tory and the Torys are that got his position," he claimed.
When reporters pointed out that Mr. Ford – whose own family owns Deco Labels and Tags as well as millions of dollars in real estate – is also considerably well-off, the candidate scoffed at the comparison. "I worked day in, day out, 18 hours a day," he said of working for his father's company.
In response, Mr. Tory called Mr. Ford's comments "laughable."
"And talk about "on the job training" – Doug Ford helped get his old family friend David Price a job in the mayor's office at $130,000 a year," a statement from the Tory campaign said. "Price didn't have a shred of practical experience, but that didn't seem to bother the Fords, who love to talk about watching every tax dollar."
Mr. Tory also pointed to Mr. Ford's attendance record at City Hall – saying he missed "more than half of Council votes this year."