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Trinity Western’s Accreditation Affirmed
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The Supreme Court in Nova Scotia has ruled that Trinity Western University should be accredited.

Summary: The Supreme Court in Nova Scotia has ruled that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society cannot require Trinity Western University to change the terms of a community covenant its faculty and students must sign.

A Nova Scotian Supreme Court judge has ruled that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society does not have the authority to deny accreditation to Trinity Western University, the Globe and Mail reports. The law school, located in British Columbia, first submitted its request for accreditation in 2012, according to Wikipedia.

  
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In April, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society voted to grant accreditation of the law school, which identifies itself as a Christian school. Accreditation would be granted upon the condition that a community covenant that the school requires its faculty, administration and students to sign would eliminate the clause that requires them to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

On Wednesday, Justice Jamie Campbell explained that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society did not have the authority to force the school to alter the community covenant. Justice Campbell explained, “It could not pass a regulation requiring TWU to change its community covenant any more than it could pass a regulation purporting to dictate what professors should be granted tenure at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, what fees should be charged by the University of Toronto Law School, or the admission policies of McGill.” The court’s opinion spanned 138 pages.

In October, accreditation for the law school was reversed.

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The opinion continued, “The legislation, quite sensibly, does not contain any mechanism for recognition or enforcement of NSBS regulations purporting to control how university law grads operate because it was never intended that they would be subject to its control.”

Last month, an attorney for the law society argued that the society did have the power to ask the school to change its covenant because a section in the Legal Profession Act says that the purpose of the law society is to both uphold and protect public interest in the practice of law.



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Guy Saffold, a spokesman for Trinity, said that the court’s decision was “exceptionally important.”

In an unusual move, Justice Campbell also included a paragraph on equality and tolerance at the end of the opinion. It read, “Unless tolerance engages the incomprehensible, the contemptible or the detestable, it is nothing much more than indifference. It isn’t a line. It’s a process. And it’s one that invites and almost requires a level of discomfort.”

The school had been previously accredited in June of 2014.

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society said that it will discuss the court’s decision with its legal counsel before it makes its next move.

Trinity Western University’s accreditation has been a controversial subject in the past several months. Law societies across Canada have debated the issue. Aside from Nova Scotia, courts in Ontario and British Columbia have also heard arguments on the case. Just a month ago, Amrik Virk, the minister of advanced education, revoked his consent for the law school due to the legal challenges it was facing.

Read about the denial of Trinity Western’s accreditation here.

In Canada, a law school must be approved by three entities: the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the provincial law society, and the ministry.

Clayton Ruby is a well-known attorney who practices criminal law and civil rights law. He is leading one legal challenge against the law school. Ruby said that Justice Campbell’s decision reflects a dated view of society, and is asking the Supreme Court of British Columbia to join several applications and petitions so that arguments against Trinity can be heard together.

The Law Society of British Columbia is also reviewing the decision, and will follow proceedings in other jurisdictions.

Andrew Wilkinson, a former attorney, is the minister of advanced education. He said, “We’ve got the internal processes of the 13 different law societies across the country to deal with; they are self-governing professions and they will make up their own minds. We’re really waiting for all of that process to go through the numerous steps that it’s facing, including subsequent litigation. We have to live in the present to make policy for the future, so we deal with the fact that [the decisions made so far] stand.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

Photo credit: Huffington Post



 

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