The proposed new law school right here in Langley has already had ramifications felt from coast to coast.
Canadians across the country â€“ in every province â€“ should be following this matter closely.
Trinity Western University wants to educate lawyers. It also wants to continue to impose its charter which constrains students in a number of ways, based on the schoolâ€™s Christian beliefs.
The TWU Community Covenant bans, among other things, gossip, obscene language, harassment, and sexual intimacy â€œthat violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.â€
If the school were a public one, there would be no question of such a covenant. In Canada, mores have shifted, and gay marriage has been legal and accepted for years.
Can private institutions discriminate, and make rules that go against the prevailing tide of morality?
We would argue that they can, provided they are not funded out of the taxpayersâ€™ pockets.
However, what TWU does not recognize is that this flows both ways.
They are allowed to build their own treehouse, and keep out anyone they donâ€™t like. But the rest of Canada can do the same in return: they can be excluded from other treehouses.
Law societies across Canada have split on the TWU case. Ontario and Nova Scotia will not accept their lawyers; B.C. is reconsidering, with a vote expected in June.
Our society never moves in lockstep on issues of morality. Some will rush on forward, while others will drag their heels.
These issues will arise again and again, and one of the best ways to deal with them is to acknowledge that discriminatory beliefs can be held privately â€“ that is one of the pillars of freedom.
But private discrimination cannot be allowed to become public.