Trinity Western University Case Study

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This paper discusses the review of the Ontario Court of Appeal between Trinity Western University v. The Law Society of Upper Canada. The structure of this paper will begin with the facts of the case which includes both the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Divisional Court decision, and the conflicting issues of the case. The second portion discusses an analytical point of the case which focuses on the limitations clause of the Charter. In this paper, I will be demonstrating that the rights and freedoms in the Charter are not absolute.
- Facts of the case
Trinity Western University (TWU) is a private university in British Columbia that provides an education based on evangelical Christian principles. TWU’s education is to provide an underlying
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The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms but only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law. They can be limited in order to protect other rights and important national values. The Charter itself has two mechanisms which preserve the power of Parliament and the legislatures to limit or override individual rights guaranteed by the Charter in the interest of public affair. Section 1 of the Charter is referred to as the limitations clause and is modelled based on European codes of civil rights. Unlike the Bill of Rights, the Charter states that no right is absolute. It is hard for Americans to understand this approach. How can you have rights, and then say the state can take them away? Yet, this is exactly s.1 of the Charter does. Moreover, s.1 of the Charter sets out a two-part test to determine whether the federal or provincial law can override a constitutional guarantee of protection within the Charter. “First, the federal or provincial statue’s limits on rights must be reasonable and prescribed by law. Second, the limits must be established, to the satisfaction of the presiding judge, to be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” (Boyd Chapter 4) The limitations clause is reasonable in this case because the rights of TWU’s freedom of religion defined in the Charter collides with…show more content…
2(a) of the Charter is limited in that freedom of religion does not extend to a policy like the Covenant. LSUC recognizes that freedom of religion interferes with the rights and freedoms of others. One of the core reasons why the LSUC is entitled to limit TWU’s religious freedom is that the Section 4.2.3 of the Law Society Act (LSA) states that the LSUC “has a duty to protect the public interest.” (Ontario Court of Appeal, 2016: D3 (103)) The Divisional Court states that the TWU should not only meet the standards of competence but must also respect the public interest set out in the principles of s. 4.2 LSA. Hence the TWU’s Community Covenant strictly restricts the equality rights of LGBTQ members which are contrary to the public interest. It follows that one of the LSUC’s objective is to remove discriminatory barriers in the legal profession which includes religious affiliation, race, and gender. Thus the Divisional Court concludes that the LSUC is entitled to consider the impact of LGBTQ community and its decision refusing to accredit TWU’s proposed law school was reasonable. This indicates that freedom of religion is not absolute and that the competing rights of other individuals or groups must always be taken into
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