In response to Mr. Jangâ€™s diatribe [Earlier court ruling misused, June 9 Letters, www.langleyadvance.com] against Mr. Kuhnâ€™s interpretation of the 2001 TWU v BC College of Teacherâ€™s Supreme Court of Canada decision [Langley university fighting Ontario and Nova Scotia, May 6, Langley Advance], I felt compelled to come to Mr. Kuhnâ€™s defence of his quite correct legal analysis of that decision.
In that decision, the Supreme Court didnâ€™t confine its reasonâ€™s to a technical nature as to the standard of review, but delved into the issue of balancing the two seemingly conflicting constitutional right to equality as well as freedom of religion.
A quote from the headnotes of that decision is illuminating: â€œAbsent concrete evidence that training teachers at TWU fosters discrimination in the public schools of B.C., the freedom of individuals to adhere to certain religious beliefs while at TWU should be respected. Acting on those beliefs, however, is a different matter. If a teacher in the public school system engages in discriminatory conduct, that teacher can be subject to disciplinary proceedings before the BCCT. In this way, the scope of the freedom of religion and equality rights that have come into conflict can be circumscribed and thereby reconciled.â€
The Law Society of BC received legal opinions from some of the brightest legal minds in B.C., who came to the same conclusion as Mr. Kuhn, which was why the Benchers of the law society approved the TWU law school.
In short, when dealing with constitutional rights, we must remember that they exist to protect from the tyranny of the majority. That is why freedom of expression doesnâ€™t protect â€œniceâ€ speech, it exists to protect offensive speech.
Similarly, freedom of religion doesnâ€™t mean that everyone is entitled to their own religion so long as they keep it to themselves and never act on their religious beliefs. If that were the case, freedom of religion becomes a powerless right.
Freedom of religion in this case shields TWU and allows those attending to adhere to a code of conduct that accords with their Christian beliefs, and not be sanctioned (by being denied accreditation) for adhering to their religious beliefs.
Witty statements such as â€œthey have the right to their religious beliefs, but not the right to be accredited as a law schoolâ€ completely miss the point.
I suggest Mr. Jang could use some legal education â€“ TWU perhaps?
Eric Vandergriendt, Aldergrove