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New Brunswick vote upholds approval of TWU law school

|Written By Gail J. Cohen

In what president Helen Beaulieu calls a surprise, the Law Society of New Brunswick upheld a decision today to approve degrees from the Christian-based law school of Trinity Western University.

The LSNB council had accredited the program last June in a vote of 14-5. However members of the law society later voted 137-30 asking the council to reverse its decision.

New Brunswick will recognize law degrees from Trinity Western.

This morning’s vote after an hour-long debate ended with 12-12 tie on the second ballot, and thus the motion to rescind the accreditation failed.

Like all the debates over approval of TWU’s law school, it centred on the university’s controversial community covenant that asks the students to refrain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman,” a stipulation critics argue is discriminatory against LGBTQ individuals.

After the vote, Beaulieu told reporters she was surprised by how the vote turned out and that it showed how complex the issue is in terms of balancing rights. She notes it’s going to be up to the courts to decide.

Last month, TWU spent two days battling the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society in court. It had voted in April to ban Trinity Western students from its bar admission program unless the university dropped or changed the covenant. The university took the society to court, arguing the ban amounts to religious discrimination.

A similar case in Ontario, where the Law Society of Upper Canada voted 28-21 in April to reject TWU’s law school bid, is set to begin the week of Jan. 19. And in mid-December, TWU launched a lawsuit against the Law Society of British Columbia, which voted to deny accreditation after initially approving it.

The university’s law school has been approved by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, as well as the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon.

  • law and emotion

    Joe Ferris
    Andrew, I think you are presupposing much here. The TWU law school is not "unwanted" and "unnecessary". That is an opinion which is yours and not accurate because many people do want such a law school. The Charter of human rights and freedoms also supports such a law school. Moreover, the 12 lawyers that voted for TWU law school were actually adhering to the law and not emotion which you seem to be doing. Canada is a wonderful country that is diverse in opinion and belief. This is a victory for diversity and pluralism.
  • RE: New Brunswick vote upholds approval of TWU law school

    Andrew R.
    It appears that the LSBN council is out of step with the vase majority of its fee paying members. 137 to 30 is an overwhelming vote that 12 members of the council chose to ignore. That sounds elitist and undemocratic to me. Further, why should the general membership of the New Brunswick's Law Society NOT have the ability to stop a controversial, new law school from opening. Why should that power be only vested in the governors? It would seem that the Rules of the Society should be amended to allow the general membership the ability to stop an unnecessary and unwanted law school from opening. At a time when law students at current law schools and junior lawyers already barred are having a horrible time finding work, it seems highly irresponsible for the Council to override the vast majority of their members to allow this new school with its discriminatory covenant.
  • Great news

    Joe Ferris
    This is very good news. The result actually supports a diverse and progressive Canada and demonstrates that people can live and work together very well and also hold to very different views. A victory for diversity in Canada.
  • Co-Chair, University of New Brunswick OUTLaw

    Ted Flett
    Such a shame, this decision is. Disenfranchises LGBTQ across Canada. Is out of step with law society members. Suggests that New Brunswickers are not as progressive as other Canadians. And sends a horrible message to LGBTQ in New Brunswick that they don't matter. Do-overs do not come by often and the LSNB squandered this opportunity.

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