Trinity Western finalized its proposal for a School of Law in 2012, after more than 20 years of planning, extensive consultation, and detailed preparation. The B.C. Minister of Advanced Education fully approved our proposal in December 2013, as did both The Law Society of British Columbia and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and plans to open the School of Law moved forward. However, unanticipated and unprecedented opposition arose. The objection concerned not the quality of Trinity Western's education, but the way in which the TWU Christian community chooses to live, work and study together, sharing traditional Christian values.
In 2014, The B.C. Minister of Advanced Education revoked his approval when the Law Society of B.C. reversed its original decision to accept TWU’s law graduates. The Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society also voted against the TWU law school. TWU pursued litigation in those three provinces. The Nova Scotia litigation has concluded in TWU’s favour. Ontario courts decided against TWU, while BC courts decided in favour. Those two cases are headed for the Supreme Court of Canada on November 30 and December 1, 2017.
The Community Covenant
At issue is TWU's Community Covenant, which all TWU students sign before joining us. The Covenant exists to define this community as distinctly Christian. It also serves to create a safe, healthy and caring community for everyone while at TWU by challenging students to live lives characterized by love, kindness, respect, gentleness, compassion, humility, forgiveness, mercy, justice, honesty, generosity and integrity.
One section of the Community Covenant honours the sacredness of traditional Christian marriage by asking students to reserve sexual intimacy for marriage between a man and a woman. This is the part of the Covenant to which the law societies object. They allege that the Covenant discriminates against LGBTQ students by creating a barrier to legal education.
The reality is that TWU welcomes anyone who wishes to be a part of TWU’s Christian learning community. Many LGBTQ students and graduates have said that they value our faith-based education and find the environment safe, loving and respectful.
The legal objections highlight another important concern: The law societies seek to justify their exclusion of admittedly well-trained lawyers educated at Trinity Western University by breaching Canadians' fundamental rights. The decision to exclude TWU-educated lawyers from the practice of law runs roughshod over the freedoms of conscience, religion, expression and association that theCharter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees all Canadians. Regardless of a person's faith or lack of faith, every Canadian has the right to freely believe, and practice those beliefs accordingly.
For more information on the legal developments, visit our Timeline page.