Joel Harden MPP / Député, Ottawa Centre

Government of Ontario

Open Letter to Charles McVety

Published on November 2, 2020

November 2, 2020

Dear Mr. McVety,

In December 2018, I received an invitation to your Christmas Celebration, and started on a response that was never finished. In light of recent events, I thought it useful to revise the letter, and send it along as a public appeal to renounce hate.

In a way you could not have expected, your invitation in 2018 was a trip down memory lane. My grandmother, Erma Davison (a proud Presbyterian) loved responding to religious leaders whose appeals for support would arrive by mail. So it continues with me.

That’s a useful segue to debate this week about Canada Christian College. My colleague Laura Mae Lindo (MPP for Kitchener Centre) asked Premier Ford to reconsider legislation before the House allowing Canada Christian College degree granting status for BAs and BSCs.

She did so after recounting these words you have 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, you’ve 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.”

Mr. McVety, in the spirit of my late grandmother, I feel it is I who should pray for you. It would appear you urgently need the prayers of people who want to address decades of racism, homophobia and transphobia. I’ll get started on that right away.

But if my prayers aren’t welcome, know this: the ideas you espouse don’t represent Christians like me who will challenge intolerance whenever it rears its ugly head. And it won’t stop queer people, transgender people, Muslims or anyone else from getting the respect they deserve, and changing our society for the better.

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 percent of the vote in downtown Ottawa. Since being elected, Lyra has been an outspoken voice, notably for marginalized students.

Or consider the Ottawa Muslim Association. On September 21, 2018, when three tornadoes struck our city, the Ottawa Mosque delivered over $5000 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 will poison your mind. I am reminded of Imam Hassan Guillet who had this to say about Alexandre Bissonette, the shooter who gunned down six men at a Quebec City mosque on January 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.”

Mr. McVety, I urge you to renounce hate, for it is rarely an accident. Hate is sown, it festers, and it can manifest terrible consequences. I urge you to embrace a more inclusive Christianity, and acknowledge the beauty that is present in everyone.

A famous carpenter we both admire 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 divided by so much misunderstanding.

Yours sincerely,

Joel Harden
MPP for Ottawa Centre

Laura Mae Lindo, MPP for Kitchener Centre
Hon. Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Nepean
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton, MPP for Kanata-Carleton
Jeremy Roberts, MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean
Goldie Ghamari, MPP for Carleton