TORONTO — The Ontario NDP is accusing Premier Doug Ford’s government of covering up its “cozy relationship with bigot Charles McVety.”
McVety, an evangelical pastor with conservative political leanings who is also the president of Canada Christian College, has had ties to the Ford family for years. Recently, photos of his November 2019 birthday party — attended by two ministers, an MPP, Ford’s former campaign manager and Ford’s wife and daughters — were deleted from Facebook, the NDP said.
“They show that it’s not just Ford himself who pals around with the homophobic, transphobic and racist McVety and family, so does Minister Rod Phillips, Minister Michael Tibollo, MPP Lorne Coe, and the architect of Ford’s electoral win, 2018 campaign director Michael Diamond,” the NDP said in a press release.
A video of Ford wishing McVety a happy birthday has also been deleted.
“Charles McVety is a vile homophobe, transphobe and racist,” the NDP’s ethics and accountability critic, Taras Natyshak, said in the statement.
“And he’s been able to secure a very valuable promise from the PC Party government, without having ever registered as a lobbyist in Ontario. It makes one wonder what happened at that party, and just how close the relationship is between Charles McVety, and members of the PC caucus.”
McVety’s Canada Christian College applied to the post-secondary education quality assessment board (PEQAB) to gain the status of a degree-granting university.
Ford’s government included a schedule in a recent small business act that would allow the college the power to call itself a university and grant degrees — which the NDP says is an attempt to “circumvent” the PEQAB process.
The minister in charge defended the bill Monday and said he doesn’t know anything about his colleagues’ relationships with McVety.
He pointed out that when Algoma University and OCAD University got status as universities, it was also done through legislation.
“I can’t speak to any personal relationships,” Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano told reporters.
“I believe in the process ... And it was my goal to ensure that there is a fair and transparent process. I can certainly assure you that if you look to the other institutions, there is absolute parity.”
Earlier: The Ford government previously faced accusations of giving special treatment to friends and relatives.
Ford also says the school is going through the same process as any other.
“I believe everyone should have the opportunity to go through the process,” he said Monday.
“And they are going to the process.”
According to the NDP, the college lost its right to grant bachelor and master degrees in 1983 under former Conservative Premier Bill Davis, after a number of scandals including accusations of McVety’s father Elmer pocketing donations meant for international charitable efforts.
McVety booted from TV
McVety has been called homophobic and Islamaphobic for years.
He told CityNews in 2018 that “gender is immutable.” In 2006, he was kicked off a Christian television station after his comments about LGBTQ+ people, Muslims and Haitians prompted complaints to the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council.
He has said on Twitter that the Islamic faith is a “war machine” and said that Haitains practise “Satanism.”
In 2018, Ford attended a Christmas event hosted by McVety and organized by the Canada Christian College. PC MPPs Sam Oosterhoff, Will Bouma and Deepak Anand also attended.
The college’s student code of conduct, included in its PEQAB organizational review application, states students must not do anything condemned by the Bible, including swearing, “involvement in the occult” and “sexual sins.”
A number of Ontario faculty associations sent letters to the government last week expressing alarm at the legislation.
“Allowing the Canada Christian College to call itself a ‘university’ and to award degrees in our province would most certainly harm these marginalized communities and allow hateful and discriminatory speech to persist,” Rahul Sapra, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, wrote.
MPP Laura Mae Lindo, the NDP’s anti-racism critic, has written to the Ontario Human Rights Commission to request an opinion on whether the government’s actions constitute violations of the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Canadian Charter of Rights.