Corus Entertainment has fired news/talk CFMJ-AM Toronto (640) morning host Mike Stafford for making racist comments in a work chat group, according to a report from VICE World News. Stafford, who had worked at CFMJ since 2001, reportedly used a slur against Pakistani people while talking in a room with more than 100 coworkers in workspace chat platform Microsoft Teams on June 2.
Corus confirmed Stafford's departure by way of an internal email to station staff and a statement made to VICE. Stafford's presence has been erased from CFMJ's website, while Greg Brady fills in as morning host.
Stafford's comment was directed at Ontario Premier Doug Ford in criticism of a press conference on reopening schools in the province, joking that he was betting that Ford would slip and refer to the virus using the slur. Stafford said he used it because he had heard Ford repeatedly use the term “Indian variant” when discussing COVID, and that his comment was in quotes to indicate that the slur was what he was saying Ford was thinking. Stafford said he was not thinking about how the term might impact some CFMJ employees. “I honestly thought I was treating the premier['s] pathetic border argument with disgust,” he told VICE.
Prior to the incident, in 2019, Stafford was criticized for tweeting offensive comments about South Asians that he says were intended as jokes to make his co-host laugh. In 2020, Stafford’s former co-host Supriya Dwivedi resigned amid racist threats from listeners she alleged were ramped up by misinformation spread by her colleagues, including “false narratives about refugees, Muslims, Sikhs and other targeted groups.” At the time, Dwivedi said that despite being a South Asian woman and Stafford’s co-host, no one from the company addressed his tweets with her until she found out about them from someone outside the company, and that her managers did not offer her the opportunity to discuss the incident on air with Stafford.