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BC Law Society could revisit Trinity Western vote in July

4,000 members ‘are looking at us and wondering what we’re going to do’: Arvay

BC Law Society president Jan Lindsay tried to move the discussion of the society’s next procedural steps in the Trinity Western case behind closed doors.  Credit: Jeremy Hainsworth

Directors of the Law Society of British Columbia could vote as early as July on their membership’s recommendation to reverse an earlier decision to approve Trinity Western University’s (TWU) proposed Christian law school.

For admission to TWU, students must sign a covenant agreeing to uphold Christian biblical teachings, including no premarital sex and no homosexuality. Failure to uphold these commitments, according to the student handbook, could result in discipline, dismissal or a refusal to readmit a student to the university.

The law society held a special general meeting June 10 after thousands of lawyers demanded the board reconsider its April decision to accept TWU graduates. While Section 13 of BC’s Legal Profession Act says that a resolution at a general meeting is not binding on the board, a statement from the society says directors will give the resolution serious and thoughtful consideration.

The directors held another heated yet respectful discussion on June 13.

“More than 75 percent of the members who registered and voted have asked us to change our decision,” law society president Jan Lindsay said.

Lindsay tried to move discussion of the process to a closed meeting, to determine how the directors could revisit their vote and the legal ramifications of doing so. “There’s more work to be done. I want to continue in a thorough, open, transparent, planned way,” she said. “Our plan is that we will continue forward at the July meeting, where benchers will determine how, when and what they want to do.”

Director Joe Arvay questioned the need to move the discussion behind closed doors. He said delaying the board’s decision is in neither the public nor the profession’s best interests.

“Everybody’s looking at us,” he said. “Four thousand members are looking at us and wondering what we’re going to do. There’s going to be outrage out there. I don’t understand what’s so confidential and secretive that we can’t discuss it around this table.”

Director Sharon Matthews says the issue needs to be dealt with transparently, for the public and for TWU. “We should be moving as quickly as we can on this issue,” she said.

Director David Crossin said he would be happy to debate the resolution. “This issue is sucking a lot of air out of the room,” he said. “I’d like to get on with it.”

Lindsay said the private discussion would be about the process for arriving at a new resolution.

A note in the June 13 agenda package notes the TWU process has cost the law society $150,000 so far.