Trinity Western University: Taking a stand to defend a Christian law school
Update (December 16, 2015): Good news! The chief justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal has granted intervenor status to ARPA Canada to make arguments on behalf of the Reformed community in the TWU matter. Stay tuned for a date and a future decision that hopefully will overturn the lower court decision. May God bless the work of the intervenors defending freedom and liberty.
Update (December 10, 2015): Another victory! We are very thankful to report that the chief justice of British Columbia has ruled in favour of TWU, quashing the B.C. Law Society’s decision to revoke accreditation of the Christian law school. Another win for religious freedom! You can read the decision here.
Update (August 25, 2015): ARPA Canada is making arguments in favour of Trinity at the Supreme Court of British Columbia this week. You can read ARPA’s submitted written arguments here.
Update (July 24, 2015): The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal has granted intervener standing to ARPA Canada, to give both written and oral arguments in the appeal. The lower court decision was a huge win for religious freedom, but the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society has decided to appeal that decision. We pray the Court of Appeal will eventually dismiss this appeal and uphold the lower court’s ruling.
Update (July 2, 2015): The Ontario Divisional Court has ruled against TWU, finding that the Law Society was reasonable in its discrimination against TWU graduates by refusing to accredit the Christian law school, despite the fact that the school was found to be academically and professionally sound. ARPA Canada is very disappointed by this ruling and hopes that TWU will appeal. Stay tuned.
Really Big Update! (January 28, 2015): Justice Campbell of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has ruled in favour of TWU and religious freedom! To read our commentary, click here. To read the judge’s 137-page decision, click here. And to read our press release, click here.
Update (December 19, 2014): The week-long judicial review in Nova Scotia wrapped up. Click here for an FAQ on the hearing, and click here to watch or read ARPA’s oral arguments in the case. (Our filed, written submissions are linked at the bottom of this article).
Update (December 18, 2014): TWU petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court to review the B.C. Law Society’s decision to not approve TWU’s law school. You can read the filed materials here.
Update (December 11, 2014): The Minister of Advanced Education in B.C. has (in our opinion) prematurely revoked approval for TWU’s law school. This is a serious blow to the school. The lawsuits in Ontario and B.C. are now on hold. However, the Nova Scotia lawsuit will proceed on the merits during the week of December 15th. We pray for a good and just judgement, such that Minister Virk will reinstate his approval for the school. ARPA Canada is an intervener in this case. You can see a copy of our brief to the court below.
Update (November 19, 2014): The Minister of Advanced Education in B.C. signaled that he was considering revoking an earlier approval of the TWU law school. For more on this story, click here. To have your say, please check out our 3 sample letters for each province in our Easymail program. Search for TWU.
Update (October 28, 2014): ARPA filed our written legal arguments with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. The 20 page intervener’s brief is attached to the bottom of this article as a .pdf document. Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think of the argument.
Trinity Western University (TWU) is a private, faith-based Christian college. In June 2012, they submitted a proposal to establish a School of Law. The university already has a Business School, Teachers College and Nursing School, so a School of Law was a natural next step.
However, TWU’s proposal was met with an outpouring of angry opposition. The very idea of a Christian law school in Canada fired up a raging debate that has seen many law professors, lawyers, politicians and activists coming out against the school with only a few backing it.
ARPA Canada understands that an attack on the idea of a Christian law school is an attack on Christian education and Christian community. If lawyers are barred from practicing law in Canada simply because they were trained at a Christian university, then what does that say for our children trained in Christian elementary and secondary schools? What does that say about our brothers and sisters trained in other professions: doctors, engineers, professors, etc., who are members of Bible-believing churches?
This past spring, ARPA’s legal counsel sent a written submission to the policy secretariat at the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC). You can read that submission here. The LSUC is the body that regulates and licenses all lawyers in the province of Ontario. Despite our submission (and many others) to the contrary, the LSUC refused to recognize law graduates from TWU. The same thing happened in Nova Scotia.
The implications of the arguments against a Christian law school are huge: if Christians can’t set up their own law schools, then they shouldn’t be able to set up any professional schools (nursing, medicine, teachers’ colleges, etc.). And if Christians can’t set up professional schools (due to “bigotry”, etc.) then perhaps they shouldn’t be able to set up any schools. And if they can’t set up any schools (again, due to their “negative” impact on society because of their “hateful” views on issues such as marriage) then maybe Christians ought not to be allowed to engage in the public square at all.
This is why ARPA is concerned about this issue and has invested heavily in defending TWU’s ability to exist and develop. When our submission was ignored in favour of political correctness in Ontario and Nova Scotia, we decided to also intervene in two simultaneous lawsuits launched by Trinity Western University against these two provincial law societies. As of September 3rd, ARPA Canada has been accepted as an intervener at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and is waiting for a decision from a judge at the Ontario Superior Court. TWU is suing not for money. TWU is suing for an order from the Court that recognizes that qualified Christian lawyers trained in a Christian environment must have equal opportunity to practice law in our country.
You can follow our progress with these cases here on our website. To hear more about our arguments and why this case matters for our communities and for Canadian liberty, be sure to attend our fall tour. To view our intervention application for Ontario (including our notice of motion, our affidavit and our factum), see the document attached to the bottom of this article. Similar documents were filed in Nova Scotia.