(Ottawa— 13 September, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has filed its argument before the Supreme Court of Canada in two appeals involving Trinity Western University (TWU).
The appeals spring from cases originating in Ontario and British Columbia between the university and those provinces’ law societies, both of which have rejected TWU’s attempts to gain recognition for its Christian law school. The British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Law Society of British Columbia, while the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld denial of accreditation by the Law Society of Upper Canada.
CAUT intervention is based on the violation of academic freedom at the proposed law school. There are four key aspects to academic freedom: freedom of teaching, freedom of research and publication, freedom to express one’s views in and of the educational institution (“intramural academic freedom”) and freedom to exercise citizenship rights without sanction (“extramural academic freedom”).
TWU doctrine requires students, staff and faculty to adhere to “historic orthodox Christianity” where Scriptures must be believed and obeyed in their entirety. CAUT argues that TWU’s faith test that reflects the TWU doctrine which faculty must meet on appointment and renew annually constitutes a violation of academic freedom as faculty are required to recognize and express the doctrine in teaching and scholarship.
“TWU’s Statement of Faith and Community Covenant requires academic staff to commit to a particular ideology or statement of faith as a condition of employment,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Violating that commitment may result in discipline or sanction, and as such is an unwarranted and unacceptable constraint on academic freedom.”
In particular, it is the denial of same sex rights and relationships at TWU that led to the rejection of accreditation by the two law societies. In the balancing of equality rights and freedom of religion under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms at issue in these cases, CAUT takes the position that the violation of academic freedom at TWU would inhibit the promotion and protection of diversity that must be expected in legal education at a Canadian law school.
CAUT is one of 26 intervenors. The appeals will be heard over November 30 – December 1.
To read our factum, click here.
Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers
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