‘LET’S JUST WHACK HIM’

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Pre­mier Doug Ford is too busy “clean­ing up a Lib­eral mess in On­tario” to be alarmed about a Lib­eral MP’s week­end tweet sug­gest­ing Ford be “whacked,” his of­fice says.Early Satur­day morn­ing, Lib­eral MP Adam Vaughan noted in a tweet that On­tario’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment was back­ing away from plans to cut all-day kinder­garten.Vaughan sug­gested the Ford govern­ment had raised the idea so that res­i­dents would be­come “up­set over hurt­ing Kinder­garten stu­dents in­stead of be­ing an­gry over the dam­age he’s done to Univer­sity stu­dents.”“Next he will go af­ter young of­fend­ers & end ‘free school’ in de­ten­tion cen­tres,” Vaughan tweeted. “In­stead of play­ing whack-a-mole; Let’s just whack him.”Later Satur­day, he is­sued an apol­ogy, clar­i­fy­ing that he did not ac­tu­ally in­tend to call for Ford’s as­sas­si­na­tion. Vaughan, the MP for Spad­ina-Fort York in Toronto, in­sisted his tweet — “Let’s just whack him” — was meant merely as a ref­er­ence to the car­ni­val game whack-amole, not the un­der­world slang for an ex­e­cu­tion.“It was never my in­tent to sug­gest any­one, any­where should in­flict real phys­i­cal harm to Pre­mier Ford,” he wrote in a state­ment. “To those who took of­fence, I’m sorry.”Vaughan, a for­mer jour­nal­ist and car­toon­ist, said the con­fu­sion stemmed from a se­ries of il­lus­tra­tions he had cre­ated, trans­pos­ing Ford’s face on a whack-amole game. (He has a his­tory of con­fronting his po­lit­i­cal foes in car­toons; as a Toronto city coun­cil­lor he oc­ca­sion­ally car­i­ca­tured his then chief ri­val, the pre­mier’s brother, the late mayor Rob Ford.)But Vaughan said he couldn’t at­tach his car­toons to his ini­tial tweet Satur­day morn­ing, leav­ing his “whack him” com­ment open to darker in­ter­pre­ta­tions.“Late in the af­ter­noon it was clear by the tone of the tweets that some were tak­ing my use of whack out of con­text,” he said in an email on Sun­day to the Na­tional Post. “Wanted to be clear that there was no in­tent to ad­vo­cate po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence.“Eas­ier to tell a joke on Twit­ter than ex­plain one.”Satur­day’s apol­ogy marked an abrupt change in tone for Vaughan, who had spent much of the af­ter­noon ridi­cul­ing Twit­ter users who ob­jected to his tweet — in­clud­ing Lisa MacLeod, On­tario’s so­cial ser­vices min­is­ter, who ac­cused Vaughan of “call­ing for vi­o­lence against On­tario’s Pre­mier.” In fact, his apol­ogy was pre­empted by an apol­ogy to moles, who Vaughan claimed re­sented “be­ing com­pared to Pre­mier Ford.”Reached for com­ment on Sun­day, Ford’s of­fice was not alarmed.“This back­bench Lib­eral MP may have a lot of time on his hands, but the Pre­mier is too busy clean­ing up a Lib­eral mess in On­tario to give it any thought,” Ford’s spokesper­son, Ivana Yelich, wrote in an email to the Na­tional Post.

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