UPDATED: Lawyer wants revote on Langley’s TWU approval

 

The fight may not be over yet for Trinity Western University as it works to create a law school.

Victoria lawyer Michael Mulligan is circulating a letter to garner support from colleagues around the province to hold a special meeting of the Law Society of B.C. for another vote on approving the school.

“On April 11, 2014, a majority of the Benchers [executive members] of the Law Society voted to approve the application by Trinity Western University despite the covenant that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation,” he wrote.

He wants the society to reconsider its approval because of TWU’s requirement that students and staff sign a Community Covenant.

It includes a provision prohibiting “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”

“The discriminatory principles reflected in the Trinity Western University covenant would appear to be inconsistent with one of the core principles reflected in the Barristers’ and Solicitors’ oath: that barristers and solicitors uphold the rights and freedoms of all persons according to the laws of Canada and British Columbia,” Mulligan wrote.

TWU president Bob Kuhn said the school has been reviewed by all the regulatory bodies and received approvals.

“Having successfully managed our way through those challenges, it’s surprising and disappointing to hear that yet another attempt is being made to overturn the approvals,”  he said. “It’s clear that whenever reasonable minds have applied logic and legal analysis to the relevant issues they have come up with the same conclusion. We are moving forward to open the TWU School of Law in September 2016.”

The law society regulates lawyers and legal education in this province and some of the society members who voted commented that there is no proof that TWU can’t turn out quality lawyers and only if there is a breach of society rules or laws, should the society get involved.

Mulligan said the university should have to provide proof before approval.

“Unfortunately the current decision of the Law Society countenances intolerance, will be detrimental to the profession, and firmly places us on the wrong side of an important issue of principle,” he said.

Mulligan can force a special meeting if he rounds up support from five per cent, or 550 B.C. lawyers.

On Monday, lawyers for openly gay Vancouver park board commissioner Trevor Loke filed a B.C. Supreme Court petition to sue the provincial government for approving the law school.

Loke, who identifies himself as a Christian, claims the minister’s decision fosters a discriminatory policy, denies him access to one of the four law schools in the province, and violates his rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“It’s akin to creating a segregated environment where some people are welcomed and some people are not,” Loke said.

Kuhn told The Vancouver Sun he was disappointed because the challenge represented even more money being thrown at an issue he said has already been resolved. 

Kuhn said that if Loke were a student, he, like all common law partners, would need to abstain from sex under the school’s community covenant. 

“I don’t think it’s a question of excluding anybody, necessarily, but there will inevitably be some people who will choose, for any number of reasons… not to go to Trinity Western law school,” he said.

The province has until April 29 to submit its response to the court.

– With files from the Vancouver Sun

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