Re: Walker's vote propagates hate (December 12) 

Erroll Treslan: Ryan, I would have thought that you and those who support tolerance and anti-discrimination would welcome this approval (actually, it’s only a conditional approval).

I copied the following from the statement of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations decrying the approval:
“Degree-granting institutions recognized by the government must meet the anti-hate and anti-discrimination standards of the Ontario Human Rights Code at a minimum. This is essential to ensure that our postsecondary system is accessible and equitable and that students, faculty and staff of religious and other equity-seeking groups feel safe and valued within our system."

This is an accurate statement and, if this (or any other) College is propagating hate or discrimination that runs afoul of the Human Rights Code, they can expect to be prosecuted and/or fined.
The quality of the education being offered doesn't seem to be the target of your ire because this College must meet the same standards as any other degree granting institution in Ontario. CBC tells us: "The college's application to become a university and grant the new degrees is still before Ontario's independent Post-secondary Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB). Although the bill enabling the changes passed this week, the government says it will not bring the legislation into force without PEQAB approval."

So what's the problem? As I understand it, the objections relate to the College's code of conduct which states that students must “refrain from practices that are biblically condemned” including premarital sex, adultery, “all types of fornication and related behaviour.” Do I agree with that prohibition? Of course not. As a secular humanist, I despise these kinds of religious edicts and will avoid asking why the College also doesn't prohibit the consumption of shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics (also both condemned in the Bible). However, the fact that I may disagree with religious beliefs and hope that they will fade into obscurity doesn't mean that I want my government to outlaw the holding of those beliefs. Freedom of religion is just as important as freedom against religion, as long as those practicing their religion/irreligion don't illegally interfere with the rights of others.

In this case, the College wants to offer degrees and, as part of practising their religion, they want to impose a code of conduct that will require prospective students not to engage in premarital sex (presumably of any kind). If students don't want to abide by that code, they are free not to apply for admission. If a teacher applies for a job who is homosexual or trans and is denied employment on that basis, they can file a human rights complaint and the result of that complaint will depend on whether the College's freedom to practice their religion is found to trump the anti-discrimination provisions of the Human Rights Code. I expect the College would successfully defend that complaint just like I expect they would lose if they denied a janitor or other non-educational service provider (such as a speech language pathologist) employment on that basis.

My point in offering this riposte was to object to characterizing Bill Walker’s vote as propagating hate. I have known this gentleman for over 20 years and he (to my knowledge) has never supported homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia or racism. It may be that Mr. McVety is "quintessentially all of these things" but the decision on whether to approve a publicly accredited College does not amount to a popularity contest for its President. The issue is whether a religious institution can offer publicly accredited degrees/diplomas and this humanist supports their right to do that, and the ensuing requirements that will be imposed on them as a result of that accreditation

Ryan Brown: Erroll Treslan, I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on the university approval process, but Alex Usher at HESA is, so here's his article on the situation:
From that: "That said, Section 2 of the legislation makes it clear that you don’t need to go through any of this if your power to grant degrees is enshrined in a Legislative Act. "
"[The Tory line of defence...] is simply nonsense: the entire point of putting this in legislation is to avoid scrutiny from PEQAB. "
What would be the point of introducing the legislation if it would be contingent on PEQAB approval? Usher nails it on the head - it's to avoid that scrutiny and legislate the process, and a bypass of the independent process is possible. Even if you're right and this legislation is completely contingent on PEQAB approval and thus useless, its only purpose would then be to send a message. That message is loud and clear: this government and the MPPs who voted on this support Charles McVety. And as Reverend Michael Coren wrote, "for many people, Charles McVety *is* Canada Christian College".

On the point of Bill Walker being none of the things I am accusing him of supporting - it doesn't matter how well you know him not to be those things based on his words, his opinions, or his personal convictions. In fact, this is the exact point of my letter. When you hold power and use it to propagate hate, it doesn't matter what you say - your actions speak for themselves.

Erroll Treslan: Ryan, the Usher piece suggests that the College won’t require PEQAB approval. That’s not what the CBC piece I linked to suggests - the government has confirmed that the portion of Bill 213 dealing with the College won’t come into force until the PEQAB approval has been granted. Please go look at Schedule 2 to the Act - it’s pretty benign. Now that you’ve left this comment, I’m perplexed at the reason for your concern. Yes, there’s no doubt that McVety is a raging homophobe but the last time I checked there was no law against evangelical intolerance against homosexuality. Bill Walker represents a constituency of citizens with varying beliefs and my point is that I (as a secular humanist and vocal proponent of LGBTQ rights) see nothing wrong with a fundy Bible College granting arts and science degrees if they meet the basic academic requirements. Rest assured that I wouldn’t want my kids to attend.

Ryan Brown Erroll Treslan, The CBC and Usher article agree completely - legislation allows the PEQAB approval process to be bypassed, but the government has said they won't use it until the PEQAB process has been completed. So that begs the question: why introduce this legislation at all? Read your quote again from the CBC article: "Although the bill *enabling* the changes passed this week, the government says it will not bring the legislation into force without PEQAB approval." Meaning they've passed a bill with all the power to enable these changes which McVety no doubt requested from Ford, and have said (again, actions speak louder than words) they won't do anything with said power anyway.
I'll quote Usher again: "So that’s the story. A previous Conservative government put in place a reasonably rigorous system of quality control on the introduction of new programs; while this government is doing an end-run around it to reward a friend of the government with generally repugnant views. And then lying about the process."

Erroll Treslan Ryan Brown, If the purpose of the legislation is to circumvent the quality control process (I’m not convinced of that), I would agree with you.

Ryan Brown Erroll, Great. Even if it isn’t, the only other purpose I can think of is symbolic, and that’s awful too.

Erroll Treslan is an Owen Sound lawyer, The Alliance Lawyers Robinson Treslan Professional Corporation

Ryan Brown is an OSDSS graduate, currently a Loran Scholar studying at McGill University.

source: Exchange on the Owen Sound Hub Facebook page. Erroll Treslan's first comment was amended, at his request

photo: Charles McVety, canadachristiancollege.com





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