Ontario’s New Democratic Party has asked both Elections Canada and Elections Ontario to investigate what it says was an illegal donation or unaccounted-for rental of space by Canada Christian College to Premier Doug Ford’s leadership campaign.
Backlash has grown in recent weeks over Ford’s connection to Charles McVety, a conservative evangelical pastor accused of homophobia and Islamophobia, whose Toronto-area religious college Ford recently moved to allow degree-granting powers.
According to the NDP, McVety and the college either donated or rented meeting and event space to Ford’s leadership campaign, which was never reported in his financial returns.
In a news release Thursday, the NDP lays out that in Ontario, it’s illegal for a campaign to take unaccounted-for donations or to fail to report an expense on a campaign financial return.
It’s also illegal for a Canadian charity to make political donations or for a politician to take them, Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo said at Queen’s Park Thursday.
“This isn’t just a sign of the cozy relationship between the premier and Mr. McVety. It’s a violation of elections law and charitable tax law,” she said.
After asking for the premier to explain why a “supposedly non-partisan charity” was using space to help him become the leader of the Progressive Conservatives, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Ross Romano responded, but did not directly answer the question.
“What we believe in, Mr. Speaker, is procedural fairness,” Romano said.
When asked if Ford would cooperate with any investigations that might arise, Romano again responded with little detail.
“I won’t speak to the status of investigations because it’s inappropriate to interfere with processes,” he said.
In a statement, Ford’s press secretary Ivana Yelich said, “We are looking into this and if any corrective action is required it will be taken immediately.”
The college has applied to Ontario’s Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board to change its name to Canada University and School of Graduate Theological Studies and to create new degree programs.
Ford’s government has said it will not proclaim the legislation until the independent board finishes its review. Ford told reporters Monday that review is ongoing.
CBC News learned last month however that the college has not actually completed Ontario’s official independent process for approving degree programs.
Canada Christian College’s code of conduct requires all staff, faculty and students to “refrain from practices that are Biblically condemned,” including what the college calls “sexual sins” including “premarital sex, adultery, all types of fornication and related behaviour.”
The NDP also points out that in addition to his stance against same sex marriage, in 2011, McVety invited Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders to speak at the college “about what McVety called ‘the threat of demographic jihad.'”