Statement by Fred Headon, CBA President, on TWU decision by FLSC

  • December 18, 2013

OTTAWA — The CBA is pleased that the Federation of Law Societies of Canada acknowledges that the public interest impacts of their decisions must be considered when accrediting law schools.

However, the Association would have appreciated a more open, consultative process so that the evidence and many points of view on the issue might have been more fully aired.  Unfortunately, the closed process will lead to the practical result of a group of people being excluded from attending or teaching at the proposed law school on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The FLSC has granted preliminary approval to the university.  The issues raised by the Trinity Western University (TWU) application are complex and CBA members hold a range of views on approval of this particular law school, and on the interpretation of the applicable law.

The CBA’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference and Equality Committee have articulated their views in a letter sent to the FLSC last March in conjunction with a letter sent by the CBA .  The CBA asked the Federation to strike a balance between freedom of religion and equality and to give full consideration to its public interest mandate and the values embodied in Canadian human rights laws. 

The FLSC acknowledges that lawyers are bound to uphold the Rule of Law and fundamental values set out in the Constitution of Canada, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and human rights legislation, and that “adherence by lawyers to principles of non-discrimination in the exercise of their professional duties is an essential part of what defines a member of the profession.” The CBA agrees.

The CBA welcomes the special advisory committee’s recommendation that the national requirements be amended to include a non-discrimination clause. The ABA principles offer a starting point for a provision that meets the exigencies of Canadian law and values. We encourage the Federation and law societies to have full public consultations. CBA will be pleased to participate and assist in the creation of a Charter and human-rights compliant approach to the accreditation of law schools.

The issues will continue to be debated within the CBA in the coming months.

The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to support for the rule of law, and improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,500 lawyers, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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