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Wpg Free Press: U of M faculty joins fight against Christian law school

April 25, 2014 — 

As the Winnipeg Free Press reports:


The University of Manitoba law school is jumping into the debate over accrediting law graduates of a Christian university near Vancouver.

The law school at private faith-based Trinity Western University in a Vancouver suburb isn’t scheduled to open until the fall of 2016.

It will do so with a controversial community covenant that requires prospective students to agree to abstain from sexual relations other than those between a man and a woman in marriage.

The U of M’s law professors and students can’t do anything about Trinity Western — but it can make a powerful argument to the Law Society of Manitoba (LSM), which will decide if TWU graduates can practise in Manitoba. In late May, the LSM will consider a submission from the U of M law school condemning the covenant and calling on the LSM to conduct public consultations regarding accreditation of TWU graduates.

“What you’re encountering is what’s called indirect discrimination,” U of M law dean Lorna Turnbull said. “It’s certainly generating significant interest.”

The Law Society of British Columbia has somewhat reluctantly agreed to accredit TWU’s law school, since B.C. law allows private schools to discriminate on religious grounds.

But, said Turnbull, “lawyers can move across provincial boundaries with relative ease.”

Competition for law-school spaces in Canada “is pretty fierce,” and the effect of the covenant is TWU’s spaces are not open to every applicant.

“This is new on the Canadian landscape,” Turnbull said.


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