The first U.S. presidential debate was so embarrassing and disgusting, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he couldn’t even sit through it all. 

“Honestly, I thought the whole debate was disgusting on both sides. They were both going after each other like two little kids in high school,” Ford said of President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s performance last week. 

The premier made the off-the-cuff remarks at a Ryerson University forum in Toronto, Tuesday. Ford was asked to share his thoughts on Trump boring in on Biden’s son’s addiction issues during the debate. 

“There’s an unwritten rule … in politics, at least in Canada, and every politician knows this: You never attack someone’s family,” Ford said. “You go after the person but never go after their family, they had nothing to do with it. I thought it was terrible.”

Watch: An off-the-rails first presidential debate. Story continues below.

Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy in 2013 after testing positive for cocaine. 

“Hunter got thrown out of the military,” Trump said, going on to falsely claim that Biden’s son was dishonourably discharged. 

“My son, like a lot of people … had a drug problem,” Biden said to Trump. “He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him.”

The debate itself was widely criticized for being a chaotic “shitshow.” 

Although Ford has had quite a few clashes of his own with former premier Kathleen Wynne and most recently, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, he had advice for Trump and Biden to avoid “embarrassing” the United States in the future.   

“Simply look at the people and tell them what you’re going to do for them,” Ford said. “Don’t worry about ‘I’m right, you’re wrong. This guy’s a bad guy, he’s an idiot.’” (Biden called Trump a clown during the debate, and an idiot last year.) 


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In one question during the forum, Ford was told that prior to the pandemic, he was regarded as “the Trump of Ontario” for his combative style of politics. 

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“Boy, that was a real slap calling me Donald Trump,” Ford responded. “I’m not going to sit here and hammer this guy. I’ve hammered him enough.” 

Ford continued that “it’s so important that we work together,” noting that through the pandemic he worked closely with Liberal and NDP premiers, and the federal Liberal government, including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. 

“I wish I could tell everyone some of the stuff that from the beginning of the pandemic to the end, you’d be here for three hours, all the things Chrystia and I were able to move forward,” he said. “At nighttime just calling, ‘Hey, let’s get this done.’”