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Trinity Western University School of Law [2013-2018]

15 June 2018
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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.

Records from the final hearings

News Articles

Commentary

Legal Submissions

Older Material: Letters

Older Material on the British Columbia Case (LSBC v TWU)

Older Material on the Nova Scotia Case (TWU v NSBS)

Older Material on 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