♫ Swear allegiance to the flag
Whatever flag they offer
Never hint at what you really feel…♫
This is a guest post by Michael T. Mulligan, Barrister & Solicitor in regards to the upcoming special general meeting of the Law Society set for June 10. I would note that at all times the views expressed on this blog are strictly personal and in particular do not reflect the opinions of the Law Society of British Columbia.
I am posting this guest post from Michael as I feel that this upcoming Special General Meeting reflects some very important issues that should be discussed fully, openly and respectfully. I know that this particular matter has garnered considerable press and generates some fairly intense views both in and outside of the legal profession. I feel that informed dialogue and discussion among the profession is the way to resolve this issue and accordingly here is Michael’s post:
In anticipation of the June 10 Special General Meeting of the Law Society of BC, please find here a legal opinion prepared by Dr. Melina Buckley and J.J. Camp, QC.
The opinion addresses the following issues:
1. Is the Trinity Western University (“TWU”) Covenant Discriminatory?
2. What is the role of the LSBC in this matter?
3. Does the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in TWU v. College of Teachers  1 SCR 772 (“BCCT”) determine the outcome of the LSBC’s decision.
In addition, please find below links to two of the submissions considered by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Both submissions include a detailed legal analysis of the applicability of the BCCT decision and come to the conclusion that it would not be determinative. The submissions further analyze the discriminatory nature of the TWU covenant and the obligations of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
If you are interested in reviewing the debate and material relied upon by the Law Society of Upper Canada in coming to the conclusion that TWU ought not to be accredited, that can be found here:
In a recent email to the profession, the president of Trinity Western University argues that it would be “unfair and discriminatory to preclude TWU graduates from practicing law in BC because of a religious belief.”
While Trinity Western University has tried to characterize the issue before the Law Society as one relating to the admission of future theoretical graduates based on their religious beliefs, this is simply not the issue before us.
In my respectful judgment, a person’s religious, political or other beliefs should play no part in a decision concerning their fitness for call and admission. The Law Society is a regulator of conduct, not belief.
Moreover, as a profession, we are better off having members with a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs.
What is being considered, at this stage, is whether the Law Society should give its approval to a proposed faculty of law. Doing so, in this case, would countenance an institution which acts in an offensive and discriminatory manner. It is Trinity Western University, not a theoretical future student, that is seeking our approval at this time.
Section 3 of the Legal Profession Act sets out the objects and duties of the Law Society. These duties include upholding the public interest in the administration of justice and the preservation and protection of the rights and freedoms of all persons. This section also grants authority to achieve these objectives by, amongst other things, permitting the Law Society to establish standards and programs for the education of lawyers.
The objection to the application for approval of a university that operates in a discriminatory fashion is not founded on, as TWU suggests, an emotional appeal. It is founded on a carefully considered analysis of the correct legal test for the granting of approval of the sort requested.
In addition to being in accordance with the legal objects and duties of the Law Society, the denial of approval for TWU is the morally right thing to do. We should be leaders in ongoing efforts to end unacceptable discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Thank you for taking the time to carefully consider this important issue.
Michael T. Mulligan
Barrister & Solicitor
Mulligan Tam Pearson Law Corp.
3rd Floor – 536 Broughton St.
Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 1C6
Toll Free: 1.800.664.2785
Thank you Mike for this guest post on such an important issue. Voting will be available at the various locations for the Special General Meeting until 6 pm PDT on June 20, 2014. The information posted by the Law Society of British Columbia regarding this meeting is as follows:
Special General Meeting June 10, 2014
Information about the special general meeting on June 10 along with the material considered by the Benchers in their discussion and decision on April 11 are available here.
Read the Notice of Special General Meeting update.
Read the Notice of Special General Meeting - includes messages from the Benchers and lawyer Michael Mulligan.
A transcript of the Bencher discussion and decision is available here.
The webcast of the meeting is available here.
The opinions that were before the Benchers for consideration at their April 11 meeting are available here.
Personally I agree that a student should not be faced with the moral dilemma of either possibly forgoing a legal education or a having to sign allegiance to an offensive discriminatory policy as a condition of being admitted to law school and never being able to admit how they really feel while they are in attendance.
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