VANCOUVER, June 9, 2016 /CNW/ - Trinity Western University is engaged in court cases in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario to present its case for recognition of the students of its proposed School of Law. The hearing at the Court of Appeal for Ontario concluded this week.
This media update lists some of the issues at stake in this case and provides background details on TWU's Community Covenant.
- Rights Violation – The primary issue is the state's infringement of TWU's Charter rights. If the law societies reject TWU's law school graduates because of the university's Community Covenant, a government agency is dictating what Canadians can believe. This is of concern to all Canadians—not just faith communities.
- Legal definition of discrimination – The Community Covenant does not discriminate contrary to law. TWU's religious association is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the B.C. Human Rights Code. The Supreme Court of Canada has already found that TWU does not do anything unlawful.
- Understanding Charter Law – The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects individuals and private organizations, including religious minorities, from government interference. The Charter therefore limits the powers of government (including law societies) over individuals and private groups. Private organizations like TWU are protected by the Charter rather than limited by it. TWU cannot, and does not, breach the Charter; rather, it allows TWU to carve out a private space in Canada for its religious community.
- Acceptance of LGBTQ students at TWU – LGBTQ students who choose to be educated in an evangelical Christian community already attend TWU. Denying TWU's law school would not help LGBTQ students achieve equal access; it would simply preserve the status quo. Accepting TWU students, however, would result in all prospective students having increased access to law school.
- Greater access to law school – When TWU opens a School of Law, 60 more people will be able to attend law school in Canada. Even if a student does not choose to attend TWU, 60 students will, which will lessen the competition at other Canadian law schools. This will improve access for everyone.
- Attending TWU is a choice – In Canada students have the privilege of choosing which universities to apply to. Each university has its own unique attributes and school culture, and students select the schools that correlate with what they are seeking in a university experience. While we realize not all law school applicants will choose TWU, we expect our graduates to be treated with fairness in the workplace.
- What's in the Community Covenant – The Community Covenant is a positive commitment that each member of the TWU community and the university itself make with each other. Everything that is in the Covenant and everything about the Covenant is guided by a duty of love, respect and care. The Covenant recognizes "diversity of viewpoints, life journeys, stages of maturity and roles within the TWU community," and calls on everyone, in all situations, to "live exemplary lives characterized by honesty, civility, truthfulness, generosity and integrity."
- Precedent in the Supreme Court of Canada – In 2001, TWU faced similar allegations of discrimination when it sought to open a Faculty of Education. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that TWU does not discriminate contrary to law and that grads would be at no more risk of showing discrimination in the workplace than any other graduate from another Canadian university.
SOURCE Trinity Western University
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For further information: Media Interviews Contact: Amy Robertson, [email protected], Trinity Western University, 604-753-9259