B.C. lawyers have voted in a binding referendum to reject the accreditation of a proposed new law school at Trinity Western University (TWU).
An overwhelming majority of 74 per cent (5,951 lawyers) were in favour of the motion against the Christian institution’s law school. There were 8,039 ballots through mail-in ballot, which required one-third of B.C.’s lawyers to participate and two-thirds to vote in favour in order to pass.
The Benchers of the provincial Law Society ordered a membership vote in reaction to June’s non-binding referendum over a resolution that the Benchers should not approve the TWU law school. In that ballot, a vast majority of B.C.’s lawyers also voted against accreditation.
The final decision on whether approval will be granted to the law school lies with the Benchers. In April, the Benchers previously voted 20-6 against a motion to prevent TWU’s law graduates from practicing law in the province.
TWU has been the centre of controversy over the past year when it was revealed that the school’s covenant, which all students and faculty must sign, bans sexual activity which “violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Opponents of the school argue that this is a form of discrimination that contradicts the principles of the Law Society of BC.
Ontario and Nova Scotia’s law societies have voted to not allow TWU’s law graduates from practicing in their provinces. However, TWU is challenging the decisions in court on the principle of the institution’s Charter right of the freedom of conscience and religion.
Meanwhile, law societies in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Nunavut have given the approval needed for TWU graduates to practice law in their jurisdictions.
Feature Image: Law and justice via Shutterstock