Trinity Western University’s campus. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

B.C. Christian school mulls covenant, future of law school after court ruling

The university still wants to open a law school, but is looking at its options.

Trinity Western University officials are not scrapping their plans for a law school on the Langley-based Christian campus.

“We’re certainly looking at possible ways of moving forward,” said Earl Phillips, executive director of the university’s law school plan.

He said first there will need to be analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision, which found in favour of the law societies of B.C. and Ontario.

Both law societies had objected to allowing TWU to grant law degrees because the university’s Community Covenant forbids sexual relations outside of marriage between a man and a woman. The law societies argued that would essentially ban LGBTQ students, including married gay students, from attending the law school.

“Limiting access to membership in the legal profession on the basis of personal characteristics, unrelated to merit, is inherently inimical to the integrity of the legal profession,” the majority of justices wrote in their decision.

The seven-to-two decision by the justices included a dissent, as well as two justices who found against TWU, but for different reasons from the majority.

“It’s a very complex and long decision,” said Phillips.

He acknowledged that the school’s Community Covenant is “at the center” of the issue, and that is something the entire university community will have to consider.

Some version of the covenant, or a similar pledge, has been a feature of TWU since it was founded in the 1960s, Phillips said.

“It has been a feature, but it has been reviewed, and I’m sure it will be reviewed in the future,” he said. The covenant has been changed in the past.

In the court’s majority decision, they justices italicized the word “mandatory” at one point to emphasize that it was a factor in their decision.

The lengthy legal battles have already caused delays in the planned opening of the law school.

Phillips said the original plan was to open in 2015. The first graduates of the three-year program would have been leaving with law degrees this year under that plan.

However, he said the lack of a law school does not seem to be having an impact on the rest of the university. It is still expanding in other areas, and recently asked for a rezoning of one portion of its campus to build new dormitories.

Just Posted

Huge crack and bang heard as Wood Lake fractures

‘It was roaring across the lake,’ Lake Country woman recounts sound of crack in Wood Lake ice

Former Prime Minister comes to Kelowna

Stephen Harper will speak in Kelowna March 12

Global Music Fest to take over Creekside Theatre

The music festival will take place Feb. 23

Vibrant Vine mixes jazz and wine tasting

The special celebration took place to commemorate Family Day long weekend

UBC Okanagan men’s volleyball falls to WolfPack

The Heat’s Brennan Goski closed his career to graduate in spring

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Okanagan College professor awarded for promoting financial literacy

Leigh Sindlinger received a Distinguished Service Award for inspiring financial literacy in youth

Poll: What do you think of Family Day weekend’s move?

Until this year, Family Day has fallen on the second Monday in February

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read