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Canadian Evangelicals Deeply Disappointed in Ontario Court's Decision Regarding Trinity Western University

( [email protected] ) Jun 30, 2016 10:09 AM EDT
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is deeply disappointed with today's Ontario Court of Appeal ruling which supports the Law Society of Upper Canada's refusal to accredit Trinity Western University's proposed law school.
Trinity Western University is located in the Fraser Valley community of Langley and enrolls about 4,000 students annually. AP photo

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is deeply disappointed with today's Ontario Court of Appeal ruling which supports the Law Society of Upper Canada's refusal to accredit Trinity Western University's proposed law school.

The Ontario Court of Appeal decision was released today in Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant v. The Law Society of Upper Canada.

"Significantly the Court of Appeal recognized that the refusal to accredit the proposed law school violates the religious freedom of TWU and its students in a significant way," said Bruce Clemenger, President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. "We disagree that the Law Society was justified in overriding these rights in deciding not to accredit the law school."  

The case was about whether the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) infringed the religious freedom of a Christian university and student by refusing to recognize the credentials of future lawyers trained at a Christian law school because of the content of the university's Community Covenant.

"Freedom of religion is an enduring component of Canadian society and faith based institutions continue to make significant contributions to the public good," said Clemenger. "In a free society, a robust pluralism includes the recognition of the public benefits of religious institutions and communities that promote respect and tolerance, and affirms the contributions of those institutions and communities to our society."

Facts:

  • Trinity Western University, a private Christian liberal arts university with six professional schools, won approval from the BC government for a professional law school in December 2013.
  • The Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) approved the TWU law school in December 2013.
  • The Law Society of Upper Canada, a member of the FLSC, decided in April 2014 that it will refuse to accept graduates of the TWU law school because it deems TWU's Community Covenant to be discriminatory.
  • The LSUC objected to the section of the Community Covenant requiring students to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman - a view which is informed by the university's religious commitments.
  • The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled in 2015 that a refusal to accredit TWU's proposed law school in Ontario was reasonable and should not be overturned - even though the court found the original refusal did interfere with TWU's religious freedom.

For additional resources on the EFC's intervention in TWU v. LSBC including the EFC's factum, visit www.theEFC.ca/TWUlaw.