TWU may lose B.C. approval for law school

Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk may withdraw provincial approval for Trinity Western University’s law school.

Virk warned TWU this summer and on Nov. 17, wrote an update.

“In my letter to you of July 11, 2014, I advised that I may reconsider my consent to the proposed law program at TWU under the Degree Authorization Act if the initial decision of the Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia approving the program was reversed,” Virk said.

TWU is challenging the decisions of the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) and the Law Society of Nova Scotia not to approve the proposed law faculty. Those cases are in court Dec. 16-19 for Nova Scotia and in mid January 2015 for Ontario.

The Law Soceity of B.C. overturned its approval after a member referendum. TWU is challenging that in court.

“As you are aware under the terms and conditions of consent TWU must enroll students within three years from the date of consent. As a result, I am considering revoking my consent for TWU’s proposed law program,” Virk wrote.

Without law societies in the different provinces and territories giving approval of a law school, the graduates cannot practice in that province or territory.

The national Federation of Law Societies approved and some provinces followed that lead. The Prairie provinces approved TWU. Other provinces held their own votes.

TWU wanted to open its law school in September 2016 but has faced controversy and opposition on various fronts. The requirement for TWU students and staff to sign a Community Covenant that says they will abstain from sex outside of marriage which is defined as between a man and woman is at the heart of most opposition.

The issue has sparked controversy across the country as people debate whether TWU’s law school can turn out grads that can represent all Canadians.

If Virk revokes the provincial approval for the law school, TWU would be back at the drawing board, having to reapply. Virk suggested that could be “when the legal issues have been determined.”

The letter was to put TWU on notice that he’s thinking about revoking his approval.

“In advance of making that decision, I will accept written submissions from TWU in relation to whether the likely expiry of my consent before the resolution of the impending challenge to the Law Society of British Columbia’s decision should cause me to revoke or change my consent for the proposed program,” Virk said.

Virk wants to see TWU’s submission by Nov. 28.

The Langley Advance contacted TWU about this issue but it was unable to provide comment before press time.

TWU statement regarding Ministry of Advanced Education letter

Trinity Western University received a letter from BC’s Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk on November 17th, expressing concerns about the start date of the School of Law. The University will respond by the November 28th deadline outlined in the letter.

“We are considering our response,” said TWU President Bob Kuhn, JD. “We remain confident that the carefully evaluated decision of the Minister will not change because of public pressure.”

TWU has applied to open Canada’s first private law school. When Minister Virk approved the School of Law last year, he gave TWU until December 2016 to enroll its first law students. In the current legal situation, Minister Virk’s letter questions whether the school will be operational in time.

TWU is a nationally-ranked, evangelical liberal-arts university in Langley, BC. Its Community Covenant has restarted a national discussion on religious freedom. “The University is so much more than the debate surrounding the Covenant,” said Kuhn. “We are open and welcoming, and believe in the rights of all Canadians to their personal beliefs and values.”

Trinity Western University is a Christian University of the arts, sciences, and professions, legislated by British Columbia to serve the public. Recognized for quality, TWU is consistently ranked among the top universities in Canada for Educational Experience by the National Survey of Student Engagement; holds four Canada Research Chairs; wins National Championships in CIS sports; and emphasizes experiential learning to prepare graduates to make a global impact. TWU offers 42 bachelor’s degrees, 17 graduate degrees, and adult degree-completion programs. A vibrant community committed to educating the whole person, TWU has been developing leaders of character and competence for 52 years.

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