Law Society of New Brunswick meeting attendees oppose Council’s decision
September 13, 2014 (Langley, BC) - At a Special General Meeting of members of the Law Society of New Brunswick (LSNB), a resolution was passed asking the LSNB Council to reverse its June 27thdecision approving a School of Law at Trinity Western University. The resolution passed on a vote of 137 to 30. There are approximately 1,600 members of the LSNB.
It is surprising that this resolution would be passed, said TWU spokesperson Guy Saffold, Ed.D., because "as a private Christian based university, Trinity Western is open and welcoming to all. The resolution does not reflect Canada’s historic commitments to respect for diverse groups.” While the Council has determined that the resolution is not binding, Saffold said: "It is disappointing that a resolution would pass that would compromise Canada's commitment to freedoms of conscience, religion, belief, expression and association."
TWU School of Law Executive Director Earl Phillips, LLB, expressed appreciation for the lawyers who took the time to attend the meeting in Fredericton and who voted to affirm the Council’s approval of the School of Law. However, he also expressed concern with the resolution, “Difficult decisions involving fundamental rights and freedoms should not be decided by popular vote,” he said.
In June, the LSNB Council came to a conclusion, in a decisive vote of 14 to 5, after the thoughtful and considered expression of views and careful consideration of reports and submissions, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers 2001 SCC 31.
“A person’s ability to study and practise law should not be questioned because of beliefs or faith commitments” said Phillips. “There is no evidence to suggest that the religious beliefs that guide TWU would affect the ability of its law graduates to serve all clients.”
Trinity Western's application to open a law school has already been approved by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education. The Law Societies of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, PEI, and Yukon are following the decision of the Federation.
“Any move to marginalize the millions of Canadian citizens of diverse faiths who share a common understanding of marriage suggests development of a very dangerous trend,” said Saffold. “A just society protects the rights of all religions.”
While there are Christian law schools in other parts of the world, Trinity Western will be the first in Canada. The School of Law at TWU will complement and diversify existing legal education in the country. Its program will address areas of real need in the Canadian legal community, with a focus on professionalism, practice competence and public service, and specializing in charities and social justice law and small business and entrepreneurial law.