PHL271H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter Decision: Evangelicalism, Law Society, Christian Philosophy
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Ontario Court of Appeal: Trinity Western v. The Law Society of Upper Canada
• Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms protects rights and freedoms of all. Tried to interpret rights
in broad fashion but there was the possibility that they would collide with other important values.
• It may collide with government objectives like security, health and the economy –
resolved by meshing interpretation with limitation of section 1 in the charter (rights and
freedoms set only to such reasonable limits)
• Collision between the broad interpretation of two rights or freedoms
• Trinity Western is a respected private school in BC. Its mandate is anchored in Christian
philosophy. Part of that philosophy is an opposition to same sex relationships and common law
relationships. They want to establish a law school. LGBTQ can apply but aren't admitted unless
they sign a covenant that forbids intimacy except between heterosexual couples. The consequence
is LGBTQ students are discriminated against. But TWU says that the covenant is protected by its
right to freedom of religion.
• TWU applied to the provincial law societies for accreditation of its proposed law school. Six
law societies have granted accreditation; three law societies have refused. Law societies refusing –
British Columbia and Nova Scotia - were overturned by superior court decisions, and have been
appealed in April and June 2016.
• Collision between Freedom of Religion and Equality. The challenge is the balance between
• TWU is a private Christian university in Langley, BC. It adheres to the Association of
Universities and Colleges of Canada's policy on Academic Freedom. It's mission statement:
'develop godly Christian leaders who glorify God through serving Him and people in various
marketplaces of life.' People reach their fullest potential by participating in a community committed
to the observation of Biblical teachings. Every student needs to read, understand and agree to the
covenant. It is a code of conduct that embodies Christian values. While it teaches from a Christian
perspective, it permits students to hold and express diverse opinions on moral, ethical and religious
issues. They do not ban admission to LGBTQ students and there are students from that
community at TWU. The covenant prohibits any form of harassment, including based on sexual
orientation. They don't actively seek cases of non-compliance, but complaints can be made.
• Brayden Volkenant is a graduate from TWU and is an evangelical Christian. He accepted the
terms of the covenant. He wanted to enroll in TWU's proposed law school but now goes to
University of Alberta's faculty of law. He wants to practice law in Ontario.
• The LSUC was created to 'act for the better regulating the practice of the law'. It's been given
authority to improve legal education and make rules with respect to the admission of students-at-
law, conditions of study and admission to practice law. It has retained authority over admission
the profession. It must have regard to public interest. It introduced accreditation as part of its
• In January 2014 TWU asked LSUC to accredit its Law School. The LSUC did not accredit the
law school. TWU brought an application for judicial review of this decision.
• The Divisional court dismissed TWU's application for judicial review. Their reasons were that:
• The LSUC decision was reasonable
• LSUC has a broader spectrum of considerations with respect to public interest when
accrediting a law school, not just standards of competence.
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