Chief Justice reverses decision, BCHA to intervene at Supreme Court of Canada

UPDATE (July 31, 2017):  Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin has just released an order reversing Justice Wagner's initial decision and approved all group's applications to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada in the Trinity Western University cases. She also extended the hearing to two days to accommodate the numerous groups.

This means that the BC Humanist Association will be in Ottawa in November to argue for limits to what religious rights an organization can claim.

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Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

This reversal is a surprising but welcome development. This is clearly an important case with potentially wide-reaching implications for secularism and equality in Canada.

July 29, 2017: Justice Richard Wagner, writing for the Supreme Court of Canada, granted leave to just nine organizations and the Attorney General of Ontario to intervene in the contentious case over evangelical Trinity Western University's proposed law school. Over thirty groups, including the BC Humanist Association had applied. Our application was initially rejected.

The Court will simultaneously hear appeals of cases from the BC and Ontario Courts of Appeal, where each province's law society rejected an application by TWU to open a law school. TWU requires that students attending the school sign a covenant that bans sex outside a heterosexual marriage. Ontario's court sided with the law society, while BC's sided with TWU.

The BC Humanist Association joined in an intervention at the BC Court of Appeal with the Canadian Secular Alliance.

The Court will hear arguments in the cases on November 30 and December 1, 2017.

The initially approved groups were:

  • Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada
  • Advocates’ Society
  • Canadian Bar Association
  • Christian Legal Fellowship
  • International Coalition of Professors of Law
  • National Coalition of Catholic School Trustees
  • Lawyers’ Right Watch Canada
  • Criminal Lawyers’ Association (Ontario)
  • Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The additional groups were:

  • Canadian Council of Christian Charities
  • Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Canadian Association of University Teachers
  • Law Students’ Society of Ontario
  • Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada
  • Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Christian Higher Education Canada (jointly)
  • British Columbia Humanist Association
  • Canadian Secular Alliance
  • Egale Canada Human Rights Trust
  • Faith, Fealty & Creed Society
  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Catholic Civil Rights League and the Faith and Freedom Alliance (jointly)
  • World Sikh Organization of Canada
  • Lesbians Gays Bisexuals and Trans People of the University of Toronto (LGBTOUT)
  • United Church of Canada
  • Start Proud and OUTlaws (jointly)
  • West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund
  • BC LGBTQ Coalition

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