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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Thomas Dawson Peacock
Surrey man, 32, charged with sexual interference

Incidents alleged to have happened in Surrey and Abbotsford

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region over the last week.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
CHARTS: Weekly COVID-19 case double in Fraser North health area, up 50% in Vancouver

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region.

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Three more Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Elections BC has received a little more than 42,000 vote-by-mail packages from Surrey voters. . (Black Press Media File)
Elections BC has received about 56,000 mail-in ballots from Surrey voters

Election results won’t be finalized until after Nov. 6

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

The Excelsior 4 are set to make their second court appearance in Abbotsford on Monday (Nov. 2). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
‘Excelsior 4’: Animal activists set to enter not guilty plea in Abbotsford hog farm case

Animal rights activists expected to plead not guilty to charges, protest for Vancouver scheduled

Dennis Cholowski shows off a Jordan 2 Retro Just Don Blue sneaker, the type of shoe only a true sneakerhead would appreciate. (Facebook photo)
VIDEO: Chilliwack Chiefs alum Dennis Cholowski shows off ‘sneakerhead’ collection

The Detroit Red Wing has been spending his NHL paycheques building up an impressive closet of shoes

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Maestro Otto Tausk. (Photo: vancouversymphony.ca)
50/50 lotto players buck up for Metro Vancouver musicians hit hard by COVID

‘Rapidly growing jackpot’ for VSO’s 50/50 draw as they go online with TheConcertHall.ca

Most Read