John Tory blasts Nick Kouvalis's conduct, but won't rule out hiring strategist in the future

Mayor John Tory condemned Nick Kouvalis's offensive online remarks, but didn't rule out hiring the controversial political strategist to work on his next mayoral campaign.

Toronto mayor condemns approach Kouvalis took in Kellie Leitch's federal Conservative leadership run

Toronto Mayor John Tory condemned political strategist Nick Kouvalis's recent comments, but didn't rule out using him in the next mayoral election. (John Rieti/CBC)

Mayor John Tory condemned Nick Kouvalis's offensive online remarks, but didn't rule out hiring the controversial political strategist to work on his next mayoral campaign.

Tory said if he did hire Kouvalis, there is no way he would take the same divisive stance Kouvalis was using in Kellie Leitch's federal Conservative leadership campaign.

"I would sooner lose an election," Tory told reporters on Friday.

All week, the mayor has been asked questions about Kouvalis's recent Twitter comments, including one tweet that called a constitutional expert critical of Leitch's policies a "cuck" — short for cuckold. The term is used online by white nationalists and other members of the so-called alt-right.

Tory called those comments "unacceptable" and said he would never use that language nor adopt ideas being pushed by Leitch's campaign, like a proposal to screen prospective immigrants for "anti-Canadian values."

"I am not going to engage in anything that divides people or tries to cause people to be anxious about one another," he said.

Nick Kouvalis, left, has helped both Rob Ford and John Tory become mayor in Toronto. Will he be involved in the next race? (Nick Kouvalis/Twitter)

Kouvalis apologized for the tweet and late Thursday he resigned from Leitch's campaign, saying he had become a "distraction."

Tory said he spoke with Kouvalis, who he considers a friend, Thursday night and urged him to get help with the personal issues that have plagued him for some time, including during the last mayoral campaign.

"When a friend is in trouble, you support them in getting out of that trouble," he said.

Tory added Kouvalis doesn't work in his office and said the media grossly overestimates the amount of communication they have.

Kouvalis, who also ran Rob Ford's successful mayoral campaign, was arrested for impaired driving last April in the Windsor, Ont., area. After that incident, he explained on Twitter that he had been hopeful that he brought his alcohol use under control following a stretch in rehab and regular addiction control meetings. 

He also admitted to Maclean's Magazine earlier this month that he had been putting "fake news" on Twitter, solely "to make the left go nuts."

In a statement on Facebook, Kouvalis said the pressure of Leitch's campaign was not "not conducive" to his personal wellbeing.