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Trinity Western University School of Law [2013-2018]

31 October 2016
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Latest News:

  • The EFC and the CCCC thanked supporters for prayers and updated them in a short new video (Jan. 16, 2018)
  • The EFC and the CCCC continue to call for prayer over the Supreme Court deliberations, expected to take up to 12 months (e.g., Dec. 2018). In these months of waiting, please pray for TWU, for healthy religious freedom in Canada, and for God's blessing on all those affected by these issues and court cases.
  • Get a bulletin insert, slides, a video, or a flyer explaining and promoting prayer on these issues (originally created for a day of prayer Nov. 26, 2017).
  • The EFC was an intervener in the final appeals, heard Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017 in the Ontario and B.C. cases. Read our live tweets from each day and watch SCC footage of the hearings (Albertos Polizogopoulos, co-counsel for the EFC, appears at 25:40). EFC President Bruce Clemenger gave video updates from the Supreme Court on Day 1 and Day 2 of the hearings. There’s also a videorecording of the hearings on CPAC.
  • Listen to a Dec. 2017 interview on the issues with Janet Epp Buckingham, a lawyer who helped develop the original proposal for a law school at Trinity Western, on the EFC podcast.

Issue Summary

Trinity Western University is a Christian university in British Columbia and an affiliate of the EFC. After TWU obtained all the formal approvals needed to start its own law school and grant degrees, provincial law societies in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia voted to create obstacles for such graduates wanting to practise law in those provinces, either by refusing to admit TWU law school graduates or not to consider TWU an accredited school. (Several other provinces including Alberta and New Brunswick have okayed future TWU law graduates.)

Objections centre on the school’s Community Covenant, which has students and faculty pledge to abstain from certain activities and behaviours during their studies including the viewing of pornography, the possession or use of alcohol on campus, and “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

The EFC believes law societies that have voted not to accept TWU law graduates have overstepped their mandates and that such decisions violate the religious freedom of TWU and its graduates.

TWU launched legal challenges in the three provinces where provincial law societies are refusing accreditation. Initial rulings in Nova Scotia, Ontario and B.C. led to appeal rulings. The EFC submitted joint interventions with Christian Higher Education Canada in each of these cases.

The Supreme Court heard final appeals of the Ontario and B.C. cases Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017. The EFC was one of the interveners permitted to appear in the case to support TWU’s right to hold to a community covenant. The EFC and the Canadian Council of Christian Charities called for a national day of prayer for religious freedom on Nov. 26, 2017. Those prayers are still needed in these months while we await the decision of the Supreme Court.

Legal Submissions

Letters

Updates from the British Columbia Case (LSBC v TWU)

Updates from the Nova Scotia Case

Updates from the Ontario Case (TWU v LSUC)

  • The Canadian Press reported Feb. 23, 2017 (National Post, Globe and Mail) that the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear appeals of the Ontario and B.C. cases
  • The Ontario Court of Appeal decision was released June 29, 2016 and the EFC responded. TWU has said it will appeal to the Supreme Court.
  • On July 2, 2015 the Ontario Superior Court ruled against TWU in its dispute with the Law Society of Upper Canada. Although the three-judge panel concluded that “the decision of the [LSUC] does have the effect of interfering with [TWU’s] rights to religious freedom,”the court expressed its view that the infringement was “not unreasonable.” 
  • Responses to the July 2, 2015 ruling were released from TWU and from EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger (online reflection July 7, 2015)
  • Read the joint submission of legal arguments by the EFC and CHEC: EFC-CHEC Legal Factum for Ontario
  • See past media releases from the EFC and from TWU

News Articles

Commentary