A Christian law school in Canada, or not?
The evangelical university in British Columbia, Trinity Western University (TWU), is planning to open a Christian law school to take its place among the more than two dozen secular-minded law schools that currently operate in Canada. To open its doors, it needs approval from several provincial and national bodies–which it has received, despite a great storm of controversy because TWU maintains a conservative code of conduct (a community covenant) for its employees and students which, among other things, restricts sexual activity to man-woman marriages.
Recently the Law Association of British Columbia voted to permit the future graduates of the (not yet operating) TWU law school to practice law in the province. Yesterday, Ontario’s counterpart law association voted the other direction: not to accept TWU law graduates to the bar in Ontario. Other provincial bar associations have scheduled votes. What such negative votes might mean for future TWU law graduates is uncertain: will they be prohibited from practicing except in the provinces that specifically have accepted them?
In the meantime, a lawsuit against the TWC law school has been launched by a British Columbia gay activist, alleging that provincial approval of the school validates discrimination that is unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian Supreme Court may have the last word. Will it rule in favor of the law school, just as, in 2001, it vindicated TWU’s education program against the charge that it turned out discriminatory teachers because of TWU’s community covenant?