Wading into the TWU debate

If the title of this Blog means nothing to you, you are likely not a lawyer and this Blog probably has little meaning to you. I’m o.k. with that.

I’ve thought about writing a Blog about the TWU debate for a long time and until now have opted not to, believing that mulling it over before putting my ideas onto the Web is a good idea. I’m over the mulling point now, particularly with the decision in Nova Scotia this week to overturn their Law Society’s refusal to recognize TWU’s forthcoming Law School.

The issue is that in order to go to TWU, you must agree that you will not participate “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman”. This has been taken to be defacto discrimination against homosexuals.

The Ontario Law Society has refused to give status to the TWU law school. The following is from the comments section of The Globe and Mail and sets out the argument:

“The core of the argument of the Law Societies of BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia is that all Canadians, regardless of religion or sexual orientation, should have equal access to the legal profession. Provincial regulation of (including the regulation of access to) the legal profession is properly the subject of the Charter’s jurisdiction.

To become a lawyer in any given province, one must attend an accredited law school. If TWU is accredited as a law school, Christians will have 20 options for entering the legal profession and non-Christians (and in particular LGBTQ students) will have 19. This does not constitute equal access to the legal profession and is, therefore, discriminatory.

19 vs. 20 may seem like a negligible difference, but (i) law school entry is competitive, so it matters; and (ii) more importantly, it isn’t equal, which is what the Charter guarantees. ”

I agree with the comment above. I do not support the idea of precluding any group from attending a Law School and I am concerned this is a slippery slope. Will the next Canadian Law School ban women from attending? What if a Canadian Law School banned Jews or Muslims from attending? What if a Canadian Law School banned Native Canadians from attending?

However, I also recognize the following reality: many lawyers called to the Ontario Bar have been educated outside of Canada. Many of those law schools are in countries that discriminate against women, homosexuals and a variety of races. Students who attend those schools are not prevented from being called to the Ontario Bar.

I think the solution to the TWU issue, in terms of a fairness issue, is to have one way of becoming a lawyer in Ontario: attend a Canadian Law School. Once that is the only way to become a lawyer, it is unlikely the Courts will find in favour of TWU.

Inga B. Andriessen JD
iandriessen@staging.andriessen.ca

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