The co-chair of the Ontario Liberal Party campaign has issued an apology after some harsh words were said against Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford during a debate at CP24 on Friday afternoon.

The salty language came about as the campaign directors for the PC, Liberal and NDP parties – Michael Diamond, David Herle and Michael Balagus, respectively – sat down in our studio at around 2 p.m. to discuss how their campaigns were getting underway ahead of the spring provincial election.

While in debate, Herle said people preferred the late Rob Ford to his brother as he was a “good politician” and a “popular guy.”

“I think people liked Rob Ford and I think people think Doug Ford is a bit of a d*ck to be honest.”

In a statement issued four hours after the debate took place, Herle said he should not have “followed suit.”

“Doug Ford has a long history of using derogatory and insulting terms to refer to a wide range of people with whom he disagrees – including female journalists, parents of autistic children and many others. No matter how commonplace such conduct might be for Mr. Ford, it is no justification to follow suit,” he said in the statement.

“There is an important difference between naming behaviours and name calling. Today, I used a term in reference to Mr. Ford that was inappropriate and I regret it. I withdraw that remark and apologize for its use without qualification.”

In response to Herle’s “name calling,” Ford said he knew this campaign would get “dirty” while speaking in Chatham on Friday evening.

“I always say that I have thick skin,” he said. “I have been called names before, but what bothers me the most is that he is insulting the people of Ontario that want to move this province forward. He is insulting my supporters which consist of PC, Liberal and NDP supporters.”

Ford said he is going to “take the high road.”

“This whole campaign, I haven’t done any name calling. I will hold Kathleen Wynne accountable for her record, but we are going to move forward on this campaign in a positive fashion.”

Speaking to reporters in Halifax on Friday, Wynne said Herle used “inappropriate” words against her opponent and noted that an apology was necessary.

“He shouldn’t have used that language,” she said. “I think there is a difference between naming a behaviour and name calling and so it wasn’t appropriate.”

Wynne said she will continue to name behaviours when speaking about Ford.

During the debate, Herle also attacked the Progressive Conservative party’s campaign strategy noting that Ford has not shown up to a couple of events Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne was in attendance of.

Speaking to Diamond, who was seated beside him, Herle said “you’re the only person on the campaign team that actually supported Doug Ford or likes Doug Ford. Your campaign is so sh*t scared of what Doug Ford might say that you are going to the most extreme lengths to hide him.”

“No campaign in Canadian history has gone to these lengths to hide their leader,” Herle said.

As Herle listed ways he believes Ford has “dodged the media,” Diamond spoke over him saying “that’s not true” adding that he believes Ford is the “most accessible” leader the country has ever seen.

When asked about Ford not attending the annual meeting of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario in Toronto on Friday or an event earlier this month billed as a “black community provincial leadership debate,” Diamond said their campaign had other plans.

“We have tour plans and it’s important for Doug Ford to meet voters,” Diamond said. “We’re not going to change our strategy – we’re running Doug ford’s campaign not somebody else’s campaign.”

Amidst back-and-forth dialogue between Herle and Diamond, Balagus chimed in saying he would have agreed that Ford was the most negative candidate in the election last week but said he has since change his mind after Wynne said “when he goes low, I’m going lower.”

“What we saw this week was very much where I saw this campaign is heading we’ve got two parties arguing aggressively, personally about who would be the worst Premier for Ontario,” Balagus said.

The debate and event for nurses in the province came on the same day that Ford spoke in Sarnia announcing that a PC government in the province would implement 30,000 long-term care beds over the next 10 years in an effort to cut hospital wait times.

Ford did not specify how much the plan would cost or how it would be funded. His campaign said further information regarding funding would come in the next few weeks.

Voters are set to vote in the provincial election on June 7.