The Law Society of Upper Canada has barred future graduates from B.C.’s Trinity Western University from practising in Ontario because students and staff agree to live by a moral code of conduct.

Shame on law society

By 
  • April 30, 2014

In a decision that might be unenforceable and is certainly misguided, the Law Society of Upper Canada has barred future graduates of a Christian law school from practising in Ontario. In a 28-21 vote, the law society branded aspiring lawyers from B.C.’s Trinity Western University persona non grata because students and staff agree to live by a moral code of conduct that, among other things, prohibits sexual intimacy outside of marriage.

Trinity Western is an evangelical community that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. That position is hardly radical. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church and many other Christian and non-Christian religions. It was the law in Canada until 2005 and remains the law across most of North America. Yet Ontario’s 200-year-old legal regulatory body has decreed that Trinity Western law students who willingly sign a covenant which affirms the biblical definition of marriage are banned from practising law in Canada’s largest province. It is a shameful decision.

No one is asking the law society to endorse Trinity Western’s beliefs. But lawyers of all people should demonstrate respect and tolerance for widely held religious views, and never resort to what the university president calls “institutional bullying.” The practice of law is often about arguments and persuasion. One reason Canada has same-sex marriage is that lawyers successfully advocated for reform. Now these reformers are slamming the door on future generations of Christian lawyers who might argue against them. It’s shabby.

For Trinity Western, its position on marriage reflects a sincerely held religious belief. As such, those who profess that belief are protected from discrimination by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That leads to questions about whether the law society’s decision could withstand a court challenge. But beyond that iffy legal position, their heavy-handed tactics are distasteful.

Trinity Western intends to open its law school in 2016. It has received conditional approval from the B.C. government, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Law Society of British Columbia. That doesn’t mean those bodies endorse the school’s community covenant on moral conduct, but they respect the institution’s right to proclaim religious beliefs and to promote them on campus. That is how it should be.

Society’s views have evolved on many social issues, but that evolution doesn’t invalidate Charter guarantees on religious freedom. It’s wrong to try to fix one perceived injustice by replacing it with another. That’s what happened here. The decision of the law society is tantamount to denying some students a career because of their faith.

Trinity Western University president Bob Khun said the ruling would have a “chilling effect” on Christians. But, actually, this type of ham-fisted dictate should give all of society the chills.

Comments (6)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Part 4
Finally, how would we feel if one of our Canadian Universities were to turn out law students who based their moral code on Sharia Law? Thank God for the Separation of Church and State.

catechist101
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Part 3
In Uganda, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone, offenders can receive life imprisonment for homosexual acts. In addition to criminalizing homosexuality,
Nigeria recently enacted legislation making it illegal for straight family members, allies and...

Part 3
In Uganda, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone, offenders can receive life imprisonment for homosexual acts. In addition to criminalizing homosexuality,
Nigeria recently enacted legislation making it illegal for straight family members, allies and friends of the LGBT to be supportive.

Read More
catechist101
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Part 2
. A point of view obviously recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
What should give Catholics and the rest of society the chills is the following: In Mauritania, Sudan, and northern Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death.

catechist101
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part 1
If a Roman Catholic wants to uphold the definition of marriage of that as being between a man and a woman they are absolutely free to practise their religious belief accordingly. However, the Church does not have the right to dictate or...

part 1
If a Roman Catholic wants to uphold the definition of marriage of that as being between a man and a woman they are absolutely free to practise their religious belief accordingly. However, the Church does not have the right to dictate or force that same belief on all others in the country.

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catechist101
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No one is offended by law school students who voluntarily sign a code of conduct,any code of conduct. However, to make signing a code of conduct a CONDITION of entry and participation in a law school degree program is an unnecessary intrusion...

No one is offended by law school students who voluntarily sign a code of conduct,any code of conduct. However, to make signing a code of conduct a CONDITION of entry and participation in a law school degree program is an unnecessary intrusion into an individual's freedom of religion.

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Catherine G Uffen MA JD
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I'd like to know what Mr. Hudak and the Prime Minister of Canada have to say about the Law Society's recent injustice to Catholic law students in B.C. Where's the Freedom OF Religion Act that was spoken about by the Prime Minister.
The Law...

I'd like to know what Mr. Hudak and the Prime Minister of Canada have to say about the Law Society's recent injustice to Catholic law students in B.C. Where's the Freedom OF Religion Act that was spoken about by the Prime Minister.
The Law Society of Upper Canada, has condemned itself.

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Larry Maheu
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