The Supreme Court today announced that leave has been granted to appeal the decisions in Trinity Western University et al. v. Law Society of Upper Canada and Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University et al. The two appeals will be heard together.
The first case is on appeal from the Ontario Court of Appeal, which sided with the Law Society in its decision to refuse accreditation to the applicant law school. The second is on appeal from the British Colombia Court of Appeals, which sided with the applicant law school in finding the refusal to accredit to be discriminatory contrary to the applicant’s right to religious freedom, inter alia.
TWU appealed from the decision of the OCA, while the LSBC appealed from the decision of the BCCA. In both cases costs are in the cause and the appellant is obligated to file their Notice of Constitutional Question within 30 days. The current Liberal government has been taking a somewhat less litigious approach than the prior administration, and it is an open question as to whether the Attorney-General will intervene on the constitutional issues raised.
Interestingly, similar litigation that came before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal was not appealed to the Supreme Court. This may perhaps be because the decision of the NSCA was made substantially on the basis that Nova Scotia’s Legal Profession Act could not apply extra-territorially to TWU, and therefore the NSCA did not canvas the constitutional issues in the way the courts of BC and Ontario did.
Gavin Magrath made submissions on behalf of the intervenor Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada at the Ontario Court of Appeal.