Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford told reporters Tuesday he doesn't condone supporters shouting "lock her up" about Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne, even if the chant appeared to make him chuckle at a rally the night earlier.
"I don't believe in that. Let me be very clear. I don't condone that," Ford said in Toronto. "Simple as that. OK. Simple as that, I don't condone it.
"But there's going to be accountability. There's going to be accountability for the taxpayers for the first time in 15 years."
The PC leader was responding to questions about an event in Niagara Falls Monday night where Ford blamed Wynne for high hydro prices, as well as the controversial compensation and severance packages given to Hydro One executives.
Wynne's government partially privatized the electric utility in 2015. Hydro One's compensation policies are determined by its board of directors.
In footage of the rally posted to Facebook, Ford is shown having a bit of a laugh after a supporter twice shouts out "lock her up" after the PC leader mentions Wynne. Ford did not address the chant, one way or another, while on stage.
The moment happens around the 17:00 mark of the clip below:
LIVE: Rally in Niagara Falls!Posted by FordNation on Monday, 14 May 2018
"Lock her up" was a refrain that some supporters of Donald Trump directed at Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election because of an FBI probe into her use of a private email server while she was U.S. secretary of state.
In late 2016, a crowd protesting Alberta's carbon tax in Edmonton also called for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to be locked up. Former Tory MP Chris Alexander, who at the time was running for the federal Conservative leadership, was heavily criticized for not intervening once the crowd started using the chant.
Last month, Wynne accused Ford of the same "ugly, vicious brand of politics" as Trump after the PC leader suggested some Liberals would face jail time if, in private life, they tried to pull what he called the same "shady tricks" that they do with taxpayer money.
"Doug Ford sounds like Donald Trump and that's because he is like Donald Trump," Wynne said at the time.
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Ford has rejected comparisons to the U.S. president but told CityNews in October 2016 that his support for Trump over "Crooked Hillary" was unwavering.
On Tuesday, Wynne said the chant was "indicative" of Ford's campaign, which she said is about "bumper stickers and angry division" instead of "responsible decision-making."
Outrage over hydro is a key part of Ford's campaign. The Tory leader frequently calls Hydro One's CEO Mayo Schmidt the "$6-Million-Man" because the executive was paid $6.2 million last year.
Ford has pledged to fire Schmidt if Tories win the provincial election this June, something he cannot do directly as premier. The PC leader would have to first remove the entire Hydro One board and have those new directors fire Schmidt. Ford says he will do just that.
According to the company, Schmidt would be entitled to $10.7 million in severance if such a step is taken.
Hydro One's part-time board raised further eyebrows this week by approving pay raises of $25,000 for members and $70,000 for the chair.
Ontario voters head to the polls on June 7.
With files from The Canadian Press