Toronto, ON August 4, 2017 – On Friday, July 28 the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) received news that our application for leave to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in the Trinity Western University (TWU) case was dismissed by the decision of Justice Wagner, dated July 27.
Most of the other religious groups, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver (RCAV), the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), as well as a number of LGBT groups, were also denied leave.
It marked the first time that the League was denied intervenor status at the SCC.
The case largely concerns TWU’s institutional religious freedom and decisions by the provincial law societies in Ontario and British Columbia that have voted not to accredit future TWU law school graduates.
The point of contention is the TWU Community Covenant, which requires that students commit themselves to a set of behaviours, including a shared understanding that sexual relations be reserved to a man and woman within the confines of a biblical understanding of marriage.
In an unprecedented move, on Monday, July 31 the CCRL received notice that the SCC had varied their order, thus allowing leave for the CCRL and all of the previously denied groups.
It appears that the Chief Justice intervened herself to allow for the interventions from religious or other groups, by adding a further day to the scheduled appeal.
The change in the court’s position is certainly a recognition of the significance of the importance of the case.
The CCRL and Faith and Freedom Alliance (FFA), in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Vancouver, have proposed to make submissions on the importance of, and recognition of, authentic pluralism, meaning that Canadian law and society is comprised of differing viewpoints, and dissentient views should not be excluded from participation in the public square.
Our system recognizes differences of views, rather than imposing a majoritarian viewpoint when it comes to religion or religious institutions in the public square. The approach by the state actors in this case, being the Law Societies in Ontario and British Columbia, to deny accreditation of the proposed Trinity Western law school, or its future graduates, represents a denial of dissentient religious viewpoints.
That majoritarian, or civic totalist approach, is quite illiberal in its application.
Trinity Western is entitled to maintain its religious views, including its position on a biblical understanding of marriage. That view is shared by the teachings of the Catholic Church. Are Catholic lawyers to be denied accreditation? Are Catholics going to be denied entry into professions for having such views?
The implications for Catholics and Catholic institutions such as education and healthcare are tremendous. We must not be compelled to have our teachings suppressed as a requirement for participation in the public square.
About the CCRL
Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. The CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization with a large nationwide membership base. The CCRL is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
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