Out on Bay, OUTlaws Named Interveners in TWU Hearing

Gay-justiceTwo organizations that represent the rights of gay and lesbian legal professionals are among eight organizations granted intervener status in a case related to Trinity Western University’s (TWU) plans for a faith-based law school.

Eleven motions for leave to intervene in the judicial review application had been brought on behalf of 14 organizations and individuals. Justice Ian Nordheimer granted status Sept. 24, under Rule 13.02 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194. Trinity Western University v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2014 ONSC 5541 (CanLII) is to be heard in December.

TWU covenant forbids “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”
The interveners are: the Christian Legal Fellowship; jointly, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Christian Higher Education Canada; the Judicial Centre for Constitutional Freedoms; jointly, Out on Bay Street and OUTlaws; The Advocates’ Society; and the Criminal Lawyers Association.

Justice Nordheimer imposed conditions on each intervener:

  • The interveners will accept the record as prepared by the parties and not add to it or adduce further evidence or raise new issues
  • Factums will be limited to 15 pages
  • Each intervener will have 30 minutes to make its submissions subject to the direction of the panel
  • Interveners will make every reasonable effort to avoid duplicating the submissions of any of the parties or each other
  • Interveners will receive the record of the proceedings, the applicants’ and the respondent’s application records, facta and books of authorities in electronic form
  • Service of all materials will be done electronically
  • Interveners will comply with the schedule ordered by the court for the delivery of all materials
  • Interveners will not seek, nor will they be subject to, any award of costs including the costs of these motions.

The Attorney General of Canada appeared on the motions and is intervening as a matter of right and has voluntarily agreed to be bound by the same conditions as the other interveners.

    Covenant Wording Affects Accreditation Decisions

Trinity Western University (TWU) is a Christian university in Langley, B.C. It plans to start a new, faith-based law school in 2016. Students and faculty sign a “community covenant,” vowing to abide by principles that govern their conduct, including sexuality. The covenant forbids “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” The covenant’s wording has affected the proposed school’s requests for accreditation for its graduates from law societies across Canada.

Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) benchers voted Sept. 26 to hold a binding referendum on whether to withdraw accreditation for TWU. Earlier this month, the Law Society of New Brunswick voted to reverse an earlier decision to accredit the proposed school. Alberta, Saskatchewan, P.E.I., and Nunavut law societies have voted in favour of accreditation. Newfoundland and Labrador, and Manitoba, have chosen to defer the issue.

In April, LSUC Benchers denied accreditation. TWU applied for judicial review of that decision, and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society decision that soon followed, not to accredit the school. Both cases are scheduled to be heard in December. In Nova Scotia, the Supreme Court case has been deemed to be both a judicial review and an Application in Court. Applications in Court permit the introduction of evidence beyond the record in the judicial review proceeding.

In British Columbia, a petitioner has challenged Ministry of Advanced Education’s approval of TWU’s law school. Trevor Loke asks for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be applied and says the failure to do so breaches equality rights.

    Important Upcoming Dates in the TWU Saga
    Oct. 30 – Last day by which LSBC Referendum results are to be public

    Dec. 15-19Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant v. Law Society of Upper Canada – Divisional Court at Osgoode Hall, Toronto

    Dec. 16-19 – Supreme Court of Nova Scotia scheduled to hear Trinity Western University v. Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, 2014 NSSC 331. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is an intervener

Leading cases and relevant principles in intervener status:
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