As a Bencher, Lawyer, and Canadian Citizen, I Feel I Have the Duty to Oppose Such Discrimination

Posted: May 4, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Every now and then, I have gone back to the transcript of the meeting held by the benchers of the B.C. Law Law Society, which ultimately ended in the accreditation of Trinity Western University’s law school. One of my favourite submissions comes from bencher Cameron Ward.  Note that voting in favour of the resolution would be a vote to refuse accreditation.

Cameron Ward’s Submissions:

Thank you, Madam Speaker, Madam President. I’ve considered the many submissions before us and I, too, appreciate the considerable thought and effort that went in to them. I paid particular attention to the December 2013 final report of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Special Advisory Committee, because that committee thoroughly considered an extensive body of material similar to the material that’s before us. The Special Advisory Committee stated in two places in its final report, at paragraphs 36 and 53, that Trinity Western University’s community covenant would make LGBT students feel unwelcome there.

I remember that in the 1960s some people in the deep south of the United States were made to feel unwelcome at lunch counters, at the fronts of buses and, indeed, in some universities, simply because of a characteristic they were  born with and could not change, namely the colour of their skin. In my view, making people feel unwelcome anywhere because of their personal characteristics is a particularly repugnant form of discrimination. As a Bencher, as a lawyer, and as a Canadian citizen, I feel I have the duty to oppose such discrimination, not to promote or to condone it. In my opinion, TWU’s community covenant is an anachronism, a throwback that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1960s.

The Law Society recently invited the university to amend it, to remove its discriminatory language. TWU refused. The Trinity Western University is stubborn enough to stick to its principles, I’m stubborn enough to stick to mine. I will proudly be voting in favour of the resolution.

Follow Up Comment

These submissions mention something very important, which many debaters have failed to mention in their discussions. TWU is not being forced to shut down or renounce its Christian beliefs. The problem is requiring law students to sign an anti-gay covenant, prior to entry into the law profession. To remedy this, the alternative that has been discussed is simply to either allow law students to be exempt from signing the covenant or amend the covenant so that it does not explicitly prohibit intimacy between homosexuals who are already legally married under Canadian law. These alternatives would allow TWU to be accredited and run its law school within a Christian framework. More importantly, the minor alternation provides a balance between freedom of religion and freedom to be free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Anonymous Lawyer

  1. What a powerful quote that is!


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