Trinity Western University v Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society

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Trinity Western University v Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society

The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (NSBS) has refused to recognize  the law program of Trinity Western University (TWU), a private Evangelical Christian university in Langley, B.C.  The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has approved the law program of TWU as meeting academic and professional standards.  The NSBS does not allege that there is anything wrong with TWU’s law program, but claims that TWU’s Community Covenant discriminates against the LGBTQ+ community.  The Community Covenant prohibits numerous legal activities such as vulgar or obscene language, drunkenness, viewing pornography, gossip, and sexual activity outside of the marriage of one man and one woman.

The Justice Centre previously intervened in this case at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in December of 2014, to argue for the Charter section 2(d) right to freedom of association, including the right of every charity, ethnic and cultural association, sports club, temple, church, and political group to establish its own rules and membership requirements.  On January 28, 2015, Justice James Campbell of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled against the NSBS, stating “The Charter is not a blueprint for moral conformity. Its purpose is to protect the citizen from the power of the state, not to enforce compliance by citizens or private institutions with the moral judgments of the state.”

On July 26, 2016, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal upheld the ruling of the Supreme Court, protecting freedom for Trinity Western, its graduates, and all Canadians. The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society has stated it will not appeal this Court of Appeal decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.