HALIFAX: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca) expressed its satisfaction with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal decision released earlier today in Trinity Western University v. Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Supreme Court, which had ruled against the Barristers Society’s refusal to accredit Trinity Western University’s law school.
The law societies of B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia have ruled against recognizing 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 Barristers’ Society 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 Barristers’ Society, stating that “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.”
“The court’s decision is a victory for freedom of association, freedom of conscience and religion, and freedom of expression,” said Justice Centre president John Carpay. “All Canadians must be free to peacefully associate with one another under common beliefs and values, without punishment, and this court today upheld those freedoms.