Revelations about the inner financial workings of Charles McVety’s controversial evangelical college have jolted the Progressive Conservative government.
As McVety, a friend and supporter of Premier Doug Ford, vies to have Canada Christian College granted university status, the opposition New Democrats are lifting the veil on the school.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath noted Thursday the college’s application to the Post-secondary Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB) was changed to remove internal financial information about McVety and his family.
“This disappearing document reappeared yesterday on the internet but without 91 of the original pages that were first put on the internet, including statements that clearly show that Mr. McVety took loans of more than half a million dollars from the college,” said Horwath.
“That information is now redacted. Why has this agency allowed Mr. McVety to remove the information?” she said.
The expurgated sections of the 315-page PEQAB applications show McVety owed $597,542 in 2018 and, as of last year, there was still $555,536 outstanding.
Another edited passage said his son, Ryan McVety, the college’s vice-president and general counsel, received a loan of $280,000 to relocate to Whitby.
The younger McVety still owed $172,360 on that loan as of last December 2019. A separate loan of $132,845 is also on the books.
A statement from McVety’s lawyer, Julian Porter, said “PEQAB has admittedly leaked private and proprietary information about Canada Christian College on their website, including but not limited to home addresses, personal cellphone numbers and other protected information.”
“An official investigation into this privacy breach is ongoing and the NDP is aware of this. However, they still chose to release this information,” the statement said.
“As president, Charles McVety’s salary is set at $200,000 per year. However, he was only paid a salary of approximately $50,000 per year. All other benefits, including housing and car allowances, were set up as loans with interest,” it continued.
“Dr. Charles McVety began repaying them two years ago in an audited agreement with the college. Ryan McVety’s salary is set at $150,000 per year and he was only paid a salary of approximately $60,000. All other benefits, including housing and car allowances for him were set up as loans with interest as well. All loans in this regard have been reviewed and audited by independent chartered professional accountants each year.”
Tory MPP Gila Martow (Thornhill), the government’s point person on the issue in the legislature, said “technology has a few bugs.”
“My understanding is that an application was put on, then taken off and changes were made and put back on again,” said Martow.
Deputy Premier Christine Elliott, noting McVety’s past comments about gays, lesbians, transgender people, and Muslims, stressed “our government does not stand for any racist or homophobic behaviour whatsoever.”
Elliott also suggested the Canada Christian College’s financial arrangements would be looked at by PEQAB.
“There are questions that are raised … but that is something that will be taken into consideration by the independent board that’s going to determine the matter,” the deputy premier said.
“The level of discomfort really comes from the suggestion that the government has any specific views on what’s been alleged,” she said.
“I am not comfortable with people seeing our government in that light.”
Ford, for his part, said PEQAB would make the decision, stressing that enabling legislation introduced by his government earlier this month was not set in stone.
“We aren’t going to proclaim the legislation until everything goes through the proper processes,” he said in Barrie.
Former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne said “the Ontario government should not grant accreditation and degree-granting privileges to institutions that do not meet the anti-discriminatory and anti-hate speech principles outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code.”