What’s Going on with those Trinity Western University Cases?

It may be difficult to follow the numerous cases dealing with Trinity Western University. Just last week we reported that Ontario’s highest court upheld the refusal of the Law Society of Upper Canada to accredit the school: Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of Upper Canada, 2016 ONCA 518.

However, late last month, in The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society v Trinity Western University, 2016 NSCA 59, the highest court in Nova Scotia appeared to reach the opposite conclusion. To be fair, the two decisions are different. In Nova Scotia the regulator enacted provisions that allowed it to adjudicate whether the school breached the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. The Court was concerned with this approach as only courts should make formal declarations of this sort. Also, the wording of the provision appeared to give the regulator powers to give directions to the out-of-province educational program rather than to simply assess the suitability of the applicants for registration. Interestingly, the court in Nova Scotia did not even address the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that played such a significant role in the Ontario Court of Appeal decision.

Thus, the two decisions may not even be inconsistent. However, it is likely that the broader issue will go to the Supreme Court of Canada which will be interesting, not only for the legal and societal values in issue, but also because in 1998 that Court sided with Trinity Western University when a similar issue arose in respect of its teaching program.

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