Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer says he is disappointed with this morning’s Supreme Court of Canada decision regarding Trinity Western University.
In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that the law societies of B.C. and Ontario can refuse accreditation to the evangelical Christian university’s planned law school based on Trinity Western University’s community covenant, which binds students to a strict code of conduct that includes abstinence from sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
“This ruling is extremely disappointing,” said Zimmer. “It’s a sad day when our top court doesn’t follow section two, the ‘Fundamental Freedoms’ section, of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms which clearly states: ‘Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a} freedom of conscience and religion.’ As an alum I am disappointed for the school, but more importantly I am concerned about what this means for religious freedom in Canada.”
The Supreme Court, however, disagrees with Zimmer’s assertion about freedom of religion.
“… No evangelical Christian is denied the right to practise his or her religion as and where they choose,” reads the court ruling. “The (Law Society of Upper Canada’s) decision means that TWU’s community members cannot impose those religious beliefs on fellow law students, since they have an inequitable impact and can cause significant harm. The LSUC chose an interpretation of the public interest which mandates access to law schools based on merit and diversity, rather than exclusionary religious practices.”
The province, which is the accrediting body for universities, is examining the ruling, says Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark.
“Government has been following this case as it worked its way through the courts,” she said. “The decision’s just came down, and we will be taking the time to carefully review the rulings, but it appears consistent with our government’s values. Our government continues to work to build a just and inclusive province where all feel welcome, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion or background.”