He also apologized for using coarse language to deny allegations that he once told a female staffer he wanted to have oral sex with her.
Renata Ford has mostly kept a low profile, though in 2008 she accused her husband of assault. The charges were eventually dropped. In 1999, Ford was arrested in Florida on a driving-under-the-influence charge, for which he was fined. In 2006, he was removed from a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game after insulting fans near him; he initially denied the incident, but later apologized for it.
Dennis Pilon, a professor of political science at Toronto’s York University, said members of Ford Nation tended to accept such misbehavior because they liked Ford’s approach to politics.
“It is a very particular group of populist voters,” Pilon said. “They’re hard to convince of anything because facts don’t matter very much. It’s about their feelings.”
However, Pilon and other political analysts said the events of the past week — including the lewd remarks on Thursday — may speed up an erosion of Ford’s support.
“There will be a group that sticks with him, but it gets smaller and smaller,” said Grace Skogstad, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto’s campus in Scarborough, one of the amalgamated suburbs where Ford has been most popular.
“People who might well have voted for him again now think it would be better for him to step down,” Skogstad said.