Readers of this humble column of mine know that as a matter of principle I defend the right to unfettered expression of any and all persons, regardless of point-of-view. The other and necessary half of this social compact requires that I subject to deliberation the jingoism, fear-mongering, and stupidity which from time to time result when this right is exercised. And so, Dear Reader, I give you Mr. Charles McVety.
As it happens I could today write timely McVety articles on no less than four topics, but I’ll only subject you to the misery of having to read one. The topics are Bill C-389 — An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression), a Canadian evangelical tour of Israel, the cancellation of Word TV, and a Spirit Day “cross-dressing” controversy at King City Public School, in Toronto. Taking only a selection from these into consideration, we begin with the text (first reading version) of Bill C-389, the new bits underlined for your convenience:
This enactment amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination. This enactment also amends the Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression as distinguishing characteristics protected under section 318 and as aggravating factors to be taken into consideration under section 718.2 at the time of sentencing.
CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
1. Section 2 of the Canadian Human Rights Act is replaced by the following:
2. The purpose of this Act is to extend the laws in Canada to give effect, within the purview of matters coming within the legislative authority of Parliament, to the principle that all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have and to have their needs accommodated, consistent with their duties and obligations as members of society, without being hindered in or prevented from doing so by discriminatory practices based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, disability or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.
2. Subsection 3(1) of the Act is replaced by the following:
3. (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.
4. Subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code is replaced by the following:
(4) In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.
5. Subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) of the Act is replaced by the following:
(i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor,
So, there you have it: an amplification of the principle that one’s sexual identity and orientation shall not constitute the grounds for discrimination. What could be wrong with that? Well, as it happens I have over the years cultivated some concerns of my own regarding the Canadian Human Rights Act, particularly in relation to the category of hate speech, or “hate messages” as set forth in Section 13(1). Also, while I disagree with the criticism that “gender expression” requires definition, I think it is at least a rational point of contention. In debate, Conservative Member of Parliament, Brent Rathberger, said
“the definition of ‘gender identity’ given in the Yogyakarta Principles includes specific reference to forms of gender expression. Why then is gender expression also used as a separate term in this bill? Is that term not superfluous? If not, then what does it mean?”
The insertion of language into the Canadian Human Rights Act does tempt the law of unintended consequences, and so the matter is something we can discuss with intelligence. Now, for the purpose of contrast, Mr. McVety’s critique:
If “gender identity” is enshrined in the criminal code of Canada, any male at any time will be permitted in girls bathrooms, showers and change rooms as long as they have an “innate feeling” of being female. If I then try to stop such a man from showering with my little girl at the local pool I will be in breach of the criminal code of Canada and could face imprisonment for two years.
This nonsense is a variation of the familiar “men of Sodom” phobia, derived from Genesis 19 and common on the Christian-right fringe. It asserts that the gay/lesbian/bi-sexual/transgendered human rights agenda disguises a sneaky and militant effort to rape little boys and girls. Pastor Charles McVety, the President of Canada Christian College, is all which now stands between your nubile child and the sex-crazy gays. Language of this sort, again directed toward homosexuals, led to the recent cancellation of his program Word TV. McVety referred on-air to Toronto’s “malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial” gay pride “sex parade,” compressing into a few words the Sodomite themes of appetite and evil.
For the base hatefulness of his views he has been compared by some to Jerry Falwell, with whom he invites other comparisons. McVety is the National Chairman of Christians United for Israel, a Christian Zionist organization in whose establishment Falwell played a leading role. As Sarah Schmidt has noted, the dispensationalists of Christian Zionism have a “complicated relationship” with Jews, whose reconstitution of Greater Israel represents the necessary pre-condition of the battle of Armageddon and the return of the Messiah. Needless to say the post-apocalyptic kingdom-on-earth will be established at the expense of the Jews.
In the meantime McVety is a frequent visitor to the Holy Land. His Canada Christian College co-sponsors (with B’nai Brith World Center in Jerusalem) “study tours” of Israel which “provide [evangelical pastors] with information and perspectives that could be used to defend Israeli government policies.” A few days ago, a series of newspaper articles provided quotations from members of the latest group to have returned from their tour. Here for your edification are some reported observations of a Dr. Pat Francis, who heads the Kingdom Covenant Ministries of Mississauga, Ontario:
“The Jews and Christians have the same enemy,” one female pastor, originally from Jamaica, said. “It is the spirit that talks of us as the infidel.”
Having worked in South Africa, she said she doesn’t believe the word “apartheid” applies to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. “It is not the right word to use. To me the domination, the one with the force and the aggressor is the Arabs, is (the use) of terrorism. ‘Either you bow down or we will kill you.’ That is beyond apartheid,” Francis said.
One could go on in this manner, producing divisive quotations from McVety and his tribal affiliates. But from what I have produced already, the character of his contributions to the cause of harmonious co-existence should be clear. Under ordinary circumstances, a fellow such as he would occupy the category “too ridiculous to merit comment.” Unfortunately, he does have an audience, among whom appears to be Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who placed McVety on a Budget Day House of Commons VIP guest list. If not for this sort of deference, McVety would be a mere absurdity, a nonentity unworthy of your attention. Instead, he is an absurdity and a nonentity with whom one should probably become familiarized.