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Keep Trinity Western-related lawsuits separate, says school

Law Society of BC wants its case to be heard with gay student’s case

There are two Trinity Western University-related lawsuits in BC right now, one against the government for approving the proposed law school (seen here) and one against the law society for rescinding its approval for the law school. Credit: twu.ca

The Law Society of BC shouldn’t be party to a gay prospective law student’s anti-discrimination suit against the government, Trinity Western University (TWU) lawyer Kevin Boonstra told BC Supreme Court Feb 25.

Student Trevor Loke is suing the BC government for approving the Christian university’s proposed law school. Though the government later withdrew its approval, Loke’s lawyers say its initial support condoned the school’s allegedly discriminatory admissions policy.

For admission to TWU, students must adhere to a community covenant that promises to uphold biblical Christian values, including abstaining from sex outside heterosexual marriage.

It’s not appropriate for the regulator of the province’s legal profession to be challenging a ministerial decision, Boonstra argued. The law society must remain impartial, he said.

But the law society’s lawyer said it has a direct interest in the suit since it’s charged under the Legal Profession Act with protecting the public interest in its governing of the legal profession. “State approval shouldn’t be given to a law school that is discriminatory in its admissions policy,” Peter Gall said.

TWU is suing the law society for rescinding approval of its proposed law school. After an outcry from its members, the law society withdrew its support last October.

This was the second day of hearings involving TWU-related lawsuits in BC and how they should proceed. On Feb 24 lawyers agreed that Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson must first decide if Loke’s lawsuit against the BC government is moot. If Hinkson allows the case to proceed, the next question will be: should it be heard at the same time as TWU’s lawsuit against the Law Society of BC.

Gall argued that the law society should be added to the Loke case, if it proceeds, to add another perspective to the case. The law society also has an interest in protecting the administration of justice, he added.

Hinkson told Gall his view of the law society’s role in the administration of justice is “far too broad.”

“The law society does not need to be a party in Loke to defend its own decision,” Boonstra countered. “They want a certain decision in Loke to prevent review of their own decision.”

Hinkson did not say when he would rule on the applications.