Renouncing hate and embracing our neighbours

Submitted by Joel Harden, MPP for Ottawa Centre

Once again, Premier Ford has shown Ontarians that friends and political allies get to live a different reality than the rest of us. 

We found out recently that he has quietly, under the cover of the pandemic, introduced legislation before the house that would grant his friend Charles McVety’s Canada Christian College the right to award university degrees. 

McVety has a long history of racist, homophobic and transphobic comments, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Premier Ford. 

In early November, my colleague Laura Mae Lindo (MPP for Kitchener Centre) asked Premier Ford to reconsider bestowing degree-granting status on Canada Christian College. She did so after recounting these words McVety has said about sexual orientation:

“…What is sexual orientation? You could have an orientation to pedophilia, you could have a sexual orientation to commit all kinds of things. It doesn’t mean that we have to accept it.”   

In other comments, McVety claimed, “Islam is not just a religion, it’s a political and cultural system as well and we know that Christians and Jews and Hindus don’t have the same mandate for a hostile takeover.” 

This is a man who misguidedly thinks his hateful views represent Christianity. They don’t. These ideas don’t represent Christians like me, who will challenge intolerance whenever it rears its ugly head. And it won’t stop queer and trans people, Muslims, or anyone else from getting the respect they deserve. 

Take Lyra Evans, for example: the first transgender candidate to be elected to a public school board in Ontario’s history, winning with over 55 per cent of the vote in Zone 9 (Rideau-Vanier/Capital Ward). Since being elected, Evans has been an outspoken voice, notably for marginalized students. 

Or consider the Ottawa Muslim Association. On Sept. 21, 2018, when three tornadoes struck our city, the Ottawa Mosque delivered over $5,000 in food, walking the stairs of countless apartment buildings to offer this support. They did the same during recent floods in 2019.  

Hate won’t stop these remarkable folks, but it can poison your mind. I am reminded of Imam Hassan Guillet who said the following about Alexandre Bissonette, the shooter who gunned down six men at a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, 2017:

“Alexandre, before being a killer, he was a victim himself. Before planting his bullets in the heads of his victims, someone planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets in his head.”

Imam Guillet is right: hate is sown, it festers, and it can manifest terrible consequences. It’s time McVety and his supporters embraced a more inclusive Christianity, and acknowledge the beauty that is present in everyone. 

A famous carpenter told us to “love your neighbour as yourself”. And in Amos 5:24, we are asked to “let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” This is welcome advice in a world filled with so much bigotry.  

Along with my colleagues in the official opposition caucus, we will keep up the pressure on Premier Ford for him to do the right thing and withdraw proposed changes to the status of Canada Christian College that would give hate an even bigger platform.

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