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Treasurer’s statement regarding vote on TWU law school

April 24, 2014

Earlier today, Convocation, which is the governing body of the Law Society of Upper Canada, voted against the accreditation of a proposed new law school at Trinity Western University (TWU) in British Columbia.

The decision was a difficult one. It was arrived at carefully and respectfully, by a process that began in January of this year, and has been transparent, open, and fair. 

Convocation voted to reject the accreditation of TWU by a vote of 28 to 21 with one abstention, following two days of debate, which were webcast to the public and the profession. Prior to Convocation's first meeting, on April 10, the Law Society of Upper Canada called for written submissions, and received more than 200 from interested parties, including TWU. All these submissions were posted on our public website, and were provided in advance to the members of Convocation before their April 10 meeting.

I would like to thank all those who took the time to make their views known. Your submissions contributed significantly to the discussion, and were carefully considered by the members of Convocation.

Representatives of TWU were present during the April 10 debate, and were provided with a full transcript. The webcast of the meeting is archived and available on our website, as will be an archived version of today's debate and vote.

Both webcasts will be archived for future reference and will be a part of the public record.

TWU representatives were invited to address Convocation today, with the opportunity to respond to the earlier debate, and to make a full presentation on all those aspects of their proposed law school they wished to address.

Convocation's deliberation was, I believe, thorough and respectful of all points of view. The decision is reflected in the vote, and the reasons have all been expressed through the two days of discussion.

Benchers took this issue very seriously, and did not find it easy to reach a decision. As members of the legal profession, we recognize the entrenched values of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Ontario's Human Rights Code, including the right of equality and the right to freedom of religion, and the foundational nature of those rights to our democracy. 

In our deliberations, I believe it was clear that we listened carefully to the full diversity of views, and came to a decision only after a full consideration of the challenging issues raised by the TWU application.

Concerns were expressed about the discriminatory effect of TWU's Community Covenant. I hope that these concerns can be explored further through continuing dialogue with the interested parties.

The Law Society of Upper Canada will continue to work with the other law societies and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to maintain high national standards of competence, professionalism, and ethics for all members of the legal profession.

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