Law societies consider TWU’s School of Law

Since Trinity Western University’s proposed School of Law was granted preliminary approval from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) and BC’s Ministry of Advanced Education last December, it has faced opposition in several provinces.

While Alberta, Saskatchewan, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut have approved the proposed school for the purposes of students articling in their province or territory, law societies in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Ontario, and New Brunswick have chosen to open the approval to public debate.

At its root, this now-national debate is about whether religious institutions, and individuals with a faith perspective, will remain free to hold religious definitions of marriage or whether, as some already argue, that is illegal.

In 2001, in a similar case against the British Columbia College of Teachers, Trinity Western University successfully defended its right to grant teaching degrees all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Now, as then, the University believes this is an issue of religious freedom, which not only affects TWU, but all religious organizations in Canada.

Due to public interest, both the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) and the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) will webcast their upcoming Benchers meetings at which discussions on Trinity Western University’s proposed School of Law will be held. On April 10, the Law Society of Upper Canada webcast will commence at 9:00 a.m. EDT (6:00am PDT). On April 11, the Law Society of British Columbia webcast will commence at 8:30 a.m. PDT.

In British Columbia, public submissions to the LSBC for consideration were fairly balanced, with 140 in favour of the law school and 152 opposed. All public submissions, as well as Trinity Western University’s submission, can be read online.

The LSUC has received 75 letters in favor, and 125 letters opposed. Public submissions and TWU’s submission are available online.

Key dates this month:

  • Apr 10 – The first of two LSUC meetings to discuss TWU’s School of Law (Toronto)
  • Apr 11 – LSBC Bencher Meeting, where we have been advised that a vote whether or not to disapprove the TWU School of Law will likely take place (Vancouver)

  • Apr 24 – Second LSUC Benchers Meeting in Ontario, where they will likely decide on whether or not to approve the TWU School of Law (Toronto)

  • Apr 25 – NSBS will report on their decision about the TWU School of Law
  • Apr 30 – Law Society of New Brunswick public submission deadline

In June, the Law Society of New Brunswick is scheduled to meet to discuss TWU’s School of Law. Written submissions from the public will be accepted until April 30. Trinity Western University has been invited to present at the June 27 meeting.

For the latest news and updates, visit TWU’s law school website.

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