Councillor Doug Ford used an anti-Polish slur on Sunday to refer to the wife of his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, then apologized.
Doug Ford made the comment during a discussion of the European soccer championship at the beginning of their weekly NewsTalk 1010 radio show.
“There’s always so much action during the Euro cup in Toronto, because we come from such diverse communities. That’s what makes Toronto,” Doug Ford said.
“They’re so many great teams, I wouldn’t want to pick one over the other. I guess (in the) Euro, you go back to the ancestors — boy, we go back quite a ways, but I’m not too sure — is there any WASPy teams on there? We’re just Canadian,” he said with a laugh. “Anyways — well, you’re married to the Polack, so you gotta cheer for the Polish team.”
Rob Ford’s wife, Renata, is of Polish descent. The mayor didn’t seem perturbed, saying simply that Renata isn’t a sports fan.
But the word is widely viewed as offensive. In May, the Polish American Association demanded an apology from controversial former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry for using it; Barry issued a statement in which he said “I should have said Polish.”
With a minute left in the show, Doug Ford apologized to Renata, whom he then referred to as Rob Ford’s “Polish little princess,” and his “extended Polish family.”
“I didn’t realize it was derogatory. But anyways, my sincerest apologies, ‘cause I love our Polish friends. I’m sure Renata’s gonna give me a good beatin’, and her parents, when I come over and watch the soccer game.”
Rob Ford responded: “No, no, no. You love the Polish community. You always have. So folks, he didn’t — the word Polack — it was just a term of affection.”
Doug Ford said: “You never know. You get the wild ones — you say one thing, and all of a sudden you get 4,000 letters. So anyways, we’re going over to your place for some Polish sausage, I guess, and we’re all good.”
A Polish Canadian Congress board member referred requests for comment to president Teresa Berezowski, who could not be reached.
Prior to Doug Ford’s apology, a representative of Forum Research, the polling firm, expressed surprise at the comment and suggested it could hurt him politically. “‘WASPy team’? ‘Polack’? Did the mayor’s brother really say these things on the radio?” the Forum representative wrote on Twitter. “There are more Polish voters in Etobicoke than almost anywhere else in Toronto.”
Rob Ford sounded unusually exasperated with Doug Ford at other points during the show.
When Doug Ford repeated his long-held position that the mayor should be granted a veto over council votes, Rob Ford immediately shot him down and said he should stop speaking on the subject. When Doug Ford said that nobody who likes streetcars should call in to the show to discuss traffic congestion, Rob Ford chastised him and said they have to be open to hearing all views. And when Doug Ford joked that homeless people should be given plastic bags to sell outside stores after Toronto’s bag ban comes into effect, Rob Ford quietly said, “Oh boy.”
At the end of the show’s last interview, with Toronto Argonauts general manager Jim Barker, Rob Ford joked that he wanted to go out and play football.
“The sweat’s coming down my back. So I feel like getting off the headphones and putting the gear on and putting my brother here right on his a-s-s,” he said.