BC Court rules in favour of Christian law school
For immediate release from the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada
December 10, 2015
BC SUPREME COURT DECISION SHOULD LEAD TO SWIFT REAPPROVAL OF CHRISTIAN LAW SCHOOL BY MINISTER OF EDUCATION
Ottawa – The chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Trinity Western University (TWU) this morning. The 43-page judgment in TWU’s lawsuit against the Law Society of British Columbia chides the Law Society for breaching their duty of procedural fairness and fettering their decision-making responsibility to the membership of the law society. Quoting a 1985 Supreme Court of Canada decision, Chief Justice Hinkson wrote, “there is, as a general common law principle, a duty of procedural fairness lying on every public authority making an administrative decision… which affects the rights, privileges, or interests of an individual”.
The chief justice also rejected some of the findings of the Ontario Divisional Court in the TWU matter in that province, concluding that he was “not persuaded that the circumstances or the jurisprudence respecting human rights have so fundamentally shifted the parameters of the debate as to render the decision in TWU v. BCCT  other than dispositive of many of the issues in this case.”
The evidence was clear, the learned judge wrote at para. 119, “that the Benchers allowed the members to dictate the outcome of the matter… In so doing, the Benchers disabled their discretion by binding themselves to a fixed blanket policy set by LSBC members. The Benchers thereby wrongfully fettered their discretion.”
The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada presented both written and oral arguments as an intervener in the case. Although the chief justice declined to consider the infringements of freedom of association, freedom of expression, and equality, this is still a clear win for religious freedom and for TWU.
ARPA Canada’s Legal Counsel André Schutten was very encouraged by today’s decision. “This decision corrects the false premise that members of Christian communities are somehow less suitable for public engagement in an increasingly secular society. It affirms that the door to Canada’s public square is still open for Christians, even as society is abandoning Christian principles. Equality does not mean that the State, also as represented by the law societies, can force a particular moral belief about sexuality on all citizens.”
Mark Penninga, Executive Director of ARPA Canada, saluted the decision and also urged BC’s Minister of Education to swiftly reapprove the Christian law school. “TWU’s law school was approved only after going through an extremely rigorous process. When the Law Society of BC bent to pressure and revoked accreditation, the BC Minister of Education also withdrew his earlier approval. Now that the BC Supreme Court has clearly sided with TWU, we will be looking to the Minister to reinstate approval, and quickly. This is a matter of principal. Freedom of religion, freedom of association, and equality under the law can’t be suppressed by legal activists who are using the power of a law society to silence or marginalize views they find objectionable.”
See the official judgement here http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/sc/15/23/2015BCSC2326.htm
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