The following post is written by Barry Bussey, VP of Legal Affairs for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities. The post can be read in entirety here:
Despite the resounding loss at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in January, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society has decided to appeal. Justice Campbell ruled that Trinity Western University’s Community Covenant was “not unlawful” and that TWU “[l]ike churches and other private institutions … does not have to comply with the equality provisions of the Charter” (Para. 10). He continued: “The Charter does not apply to TWU. TWU is not engaging in unlawful discrimination. The fact that the NSBS and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission do not like it does not make it unlawful” (Para. 245).
In his searing response to the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society’s action against TWU, Justice Campbell clearly stated that the Charter is not “a blueprint for moral conformity.” . However, it would appear that the NSBS does intend to use the Charter as a blueprint for moral conformity. In its announcement of the appeal, the Society gave the following rationale as justification for its appeal:
If left unchallenged, this ruling may significantly restrict the scope of the Society’s authority to uphold and protect the public interest in regulating the legal profession. It may also prohibit the Society from continuing to take on a wider role in the promotion of equality in all aspects of its work, including in the administration of justice.
That statement speaks volumes of what is motivating the Society.
First, they claim Campbell’s ruling would restrict the scope of the Society’s authority. Justice Campbell made it very clear that the Society has absolutely no legal authority to regulate law schools—especially those in another province. Even if it did, it was unreasonable in its lack of concern for the religious freedom issues (Para. 3, 4). However, the Society does not want to be limited by the current state of the law—it has much grander plans.
Second, NSBS is wanting “a wider role in the promotion of equality in all aspects of its work, including in the administration of justice.” That remarkable statement helps us to see more clearly what Canadian society—and the religious community in particular—is up against. The issue is no longer about the law—it is well beyond that point. The NSBS has unapologetically proclaimed in its rationalization that it is an advocate for taking on “a wider role in the promotion of equality in all aspects of its work.” That is an incredible statement of admission. A law society has now deemed its public interest to be the “advocate in chief” (my words) in promoting equality (as it understands equality) at the expense of religious freedom. We are indeed entering a very scary time when, under the guise of a Charter “freedom,” the Charter is now being used as “a blueprint for moral conformity.”
It is strange—more than strange—for a law society to be so willing to take on the role of promoting one right (equality) over another (freedom of religion).