Wednesday, Nov 29, 2017
Trinity U looks to Supreme court to add law school
By Linda Munro
rinity Western University (TWU), a small Christian university located in British Columbia, will appear before the Supreme Court this week to argue that it should be able to open a law school. The oral argument, which involves TWU, the Law Society of British Columbia, the Law Society of Upper Canada and an unprecedented number of interveners, will take place in Ottawa over the course of two days on November 30 and December 1.
"Our law school will not rely on taxpayer funding and will provide access to justice to many Canadians," said Earl Phillips, executive director of TWU's proposed School of Law. "The law school will also offer a concentration in charity law, at a time when non-profits are the second fastest growing sector in Canada. Of the 21 common law schools in Canada only three offer charity law courses and none offer a specialty."
TWU applied to open the law school since 2012 but opponents argue that its distinctly Christian approach and community covenant are discriminatory. The covenant, a 2,000-word document that calls for all who attend and work at TWU to "cultivate Christian virtues, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, humility, forgiveness, peacemaking, mercy and justice," also defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
"Not a single student has ever been expelled for being a member of the LGTBQ+ community. All we ask is that, while at TWU, students live according to our community covenant," says TWU President Bob Kuhn. "We believe this case is not just about TWU. This case is about freedom for all faith communities and other minorities in Canada. As the BC Court of Appeal stated when it decided in favour of the law school, 'a society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society'."
Brayden Volkenant and Jessie Legaree are TWU Alumni who are now pursuing careers in law. Both Legaree and Volkenant would have applied to the TWU School of Law to continue their education at TWU if the opportunity had been available. They are both available for media comment.
"A TWU law school graduate would receive the same quality legal training as a lawyer from other Canadian law schools. The law is the same, no matter where you study it," says Jessie Legaree, a law school graduate from the University of Toronto and a practicing lawyer in Abbotsford, BC.
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University offers liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media and culture.