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BY EMAIL AND MAIL

November 7, 2014

The Honourable Amrik Virk


Minister of Advanced Education
The Province of British Columbia
Room 133, Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4
Dear Minister Virk:

Re

Decision of Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) to Rescind TWU Accreditation

I write to you in my capacity as President of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL).
FACLs mandate is to promote equity, justice and opportunity for Asian Canadian lawyers and
within the broader community.
FACL has been a consistent voice against the accreditation of the proposed law school at
Trinity Western University (TWU). I have attached FACLs self-explanatory letters to Tom
Conway, then Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, dated January 15, 2014, with
attached FACL Statement FACL Speaks Out Against the Approval of the Trinity Western
University Law School in British Columbia, as well as our FACL Statement of September 2014,
FACL Supports the Decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada to Refuse to Accredit the
Proposed Law Program of Trinity Western University.
TWU asks that its law program obtain accreditation from the provincial and territorial regulators
of the legal profession so that its law program graduates will be eligible to seek admission to the
bar of each jurisdiction. The TWU had been successful in obtaining accreditation from the Law
Society of British Columbia (LSBC). In light of the recent decision of the LSBC to rescind TWU's
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, 20 Toronto Street, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M5C 2B8

www.facl.ca


accreditation, we write to request that you similarly reverse the approval of TWU's law degrees
by the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education.
Since early 2013, when the TWU issue first became publicized, we have reflected on our own
mandate to promote equity, justice and opportunity, and the role of lawyers as officers of the
court and within the wider administration of justice. FACL has had serious reservations about
TWUs discriminatory policies towards LGBTQ students. A key component of its discriminatory
practices is the 'Community Covenant Agreement', which all TWU students must sign, requiring
TWU students to abstain from sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage
between a man and a woman.1 The policy plainly discriminates on the basis of sexual
orientation. Its breach carries disciplinary sanctions, up to expulsion.2
FACL was disappointed to learn that the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC)
recommended that its member law societies accredit TWUs law school3 and the subsequent
decision of the LSBC to grant accreditation to the TWU law program. FACL has been
encouraged by the decisions of the law societies in Nova Scotia4 and Ontario5 that the TWU law
program could not be accredited. Further, on October 31, 2014, the LSBC rescinded its earlier
approval, following a decisive and binding vote of British Columbia's lawyers.6 FACL is further
encouraged to learn that the decision to accredit the school in New Brunswick may also soon be
reversed.7
We share the understanding of Out on Bay Street (OOBS) and OUTlaws, who have advised
that in reaching its conclusion in December, the Ministry appeared to rely heavily on the FLSCs
recommendation. We understand that the announcement of your approval came the day after
the FLSC released its report,8 and in the wake of an expert panel's "serious reservations" about
the proposed law schools academic freedom, the breadth of its world view, its ability to teach of
legal skills, and its course quality.9

1

Trinity Western University Community Covenant Agreement at page 3, available online:


<http://twu.ca/studenthandbook/twu-community-covenant-agreement.pdf>
2
Trinity Western University Student Handbook, Student Accountability Process, available online:
<http://twu.ca/studenthandbook/university-policies/student-accountability-process.html>
3
Federation of Law Societies of Canada, Federation Provides Preliminary Approval of Trinity Western Universitys
Proposed Law Program, 16 December 2013, available online: <http://bit.ly/1oiZtsk>
4
Nova Scotia Barristers Society, Council votes for Option C in Trinity Western University law school decision, 25
April 2014, available online: <http://bit.ly/1tyindV>
5

Law Society of Upper Canada, Trinity Western University (TWU) Accreditation, available online:
<http://www.lsuc.on.ca/twu/>
6
Law Society of British Columbia, Proposed TWU law school not approved for Law Societys admission program, 31
October 2014, available online: <http://bit.ly/1Afs6f9>
7
Law Society of New Brunswick, Trinity Western University, 3 September 2014, available online: <http://lawsocietybarreau.nb.ca/en/public/trinity-western-university>
8
British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Ministers Statement on Trinity Western Universitys Proposed
Law Degree, 18 December 2013, available online: <http://bit.ly/KlOdZA>
9

Stanley Tromp, " Experts warned of 'serious reservations' about Trinity Western Universitys law school plan," The
Province, 17 August 2014, available online: <http://bit.ly/1xbDCmi>

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, 20 Toronto Street, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M5C 2B8

www.facl.ca


We have since learned that your approval was also conditional. In a letter dated July 11, 2014,
you cautioned TWU President Bob Kuhn that:
The institution must provide a report to the Board on the status of faculty
recruitment and regulatory body approval prior to launching the program.
This term is consistent with the published criteria for quality assessment under
the Degree Authorization Act in the Degree Program Review Criteria and
Guidelines. The criteria to be considered by the Board include evidence that
relevant regulatory bodies will recognize the credential The Federation of
Law Societies and the Law Society of BC are the relevant professional and
regulatory bodies for the practice of law in BC. I request that TWU ensure it
fulfills its reporting requirement under the terms and conditions of consent in
the event that the Benchers initial decision to approve the law faculty is
ultimately reversed. [emphasis added]
This plainly implies that without regulatory approval by the LSBC, the consent given by the
Minister is not effective, and the TWU law degrees cannot be issued. Today, it is clear that
LSBC will not accredit the law school. Seventy-four percent of the 8,039 ballots in the LSBC's
October 30 referendum were voted in favour of a resolution directing that:
"...the Benchers implement the resolution of the members passed at the
special general meeting of the Law Society held on June 10, 2014, and
declare that the proposed law school at Trinity Western University is not an
approved faculty of law for the purpose of the Law Society's admissions
program."10
The June 10 resolution (which passed with 77% of 4,178 votes) similarly called on the LSBC
Benchers to declare that TWU is not an approved law faculty for the purpose of the bar
admissions requirements in British Columbia.11
In effect, the October 30 referendum results were binding on the LSBC Benchers, who
rescinded TWU's accreditation on October 31. This was a procedural outcome anticipated in
your July 11 letter to President Kuhn. In light of these developments, we request that you
enforce the terms of TWUs degree approval by the Ministry of Advanced Education. As stated
in your letter:
If TWU law school graduates are not eligible to practice law in British
Columbia, that would constitute a substantive change to the program that may
require further consideration of the consent granted under the Degree
Authorization Act.

10

Law Society of British Columbia, Notices to the Profession, 26 September 2014, available online:
<http://bit.ly/1utZLPh>

11

Law Society of British Columbia, Special General Meeting - June 10, 2014, 10 June 2014, available online:
<https://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/page.cfm?cid=3946&t=Special-General-Meeting,-June-10>

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, 20 Toronto Street, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M5C 2B8

www.facl.ca


FACL supports the position of OOBS and OUTlaws that this process has been flawed from the
outset, as it was unjust for the B.C. government to rubber-stamp a pathway to the legal
profession that openly discriminates against a vulnerable segment of the Canadian public.
Although it should not have been necessary to do so, your Ministry can now rely on the
numerous regulators, academics, and legal authorities that have consistently rejected TWU's
position on this issue.
FACL looks forward to the Ministry complying with the original terms of its approval of degree
granting status to TWUs law program, and thereby revoking its approval.

Yours truly,

Lai-King Hum
(Ms) Lai-King Hum
President, Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers
c/o lhum@thehumlawfirm.ca
/lkh
Enclosures :

Letter dated January 15, 2013 to Tom Conway, then Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper
Canada, with attached FACL Statement, FACL Speaks Out Against the Approval of the Trinity
Western University Law School in British Columbia

September 2014, FACL Statement, FACL Supports the Decision of the Law Society of Upper
Canada to Refuse to Accredit the Proposed Law Program of Trinity Western University

_____________________________________________________________________________________
Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, 20 Toronto Street, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M5C 2B8

www.facl.ca

Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers


20 Toronto Street, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M5C 2B8
www.facl.ca

January 15, 2014


Mr. Thomas G. Conway
Treasurer of Law Society of Canada
Law Society of Upper Canada
130 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N6

Dear Treasurer and Members of Convocation:


RE: Concerns with the Approval of Trinity Western Universitys Proposed Law School Program
The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL) is a diverse coalition of Asian Canadian legal
professionals with a mission is to promote equity, justice, and opportunity.
In furtherance of FACLs mission, FACL issued a statement on January 8, 2014 speaking out against the
Federation of Law Societies of Canadas recommendation to provincial law societies to approve the Trinity
Western University (TWU) law school program. Please see the attached statement.
FACL urges you to oppose or place conditions on TWUs accreditation in Ontario, and to ask you to advance
an accreditation requirement that prevents any law school from discriminating on a constitutionally protected
ground, such as sexual orientation.
Sincerely,
FEDERATION OF ASIAN CANADIAN LAWYERS

Lai-King Hum
President

FACL Speaks Out Against the Approval of the Trinity Western University Law School in British
Columbia
As an organization aimed at promoting equity, justice and opportunity, FACL strongly opposes the Federation
of Law Societies of Canada's (FLSCs) recommendation that provincial law societies approve Trinity Western
University's (TWU's) proposed law school program. FACL is also disturbed by the B.C. Minister of
Advanced Education's hasty approval of TWU's law degree program the day after the FLSC concluded its
protracted and closed-door process.
Specifically, FACL is of the view that the TWU Community Covenant Agreement, that is required to be
signed by all TWU faculty, staff and students, is discriminatory. The Community Covenant Agreement
includes a requirement to abstain from sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a
man and woman and provides TWU with the reserved rights to question, challenge or discipline its members
in response to actions that impact personal or social welfare. Past iterations of the Community Covenant
included a requirement to refrain from practices that are biblically condemned, including homosexual
behaviour.
The mandatory requirement to enter into the Community Covenant Agreement as a condition to school
admission and employment at TWU has the effect of excluding applicants from the lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transsexual and transgender communities and negatively impacts upon the human dignity of persons in these
communities.
FACL believes that all law schools across Canada must create a forum for free exchange of ideas, premised
upon inclusion, tolerance, respect and opportunity for equal participation. FACL further believes that law
schools and the institutions that authorize the creation of these schools must act in the public interest and
ensure that their policies and practices adhere to the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms and provincial and territorial human rights legislation.
FACL agrees with the Council of Canadian Law Deans that, Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
is unlawful in Canada and fundamentally at odds with the core values of all Canadian law schools.
FACL calls upon the provincial law societies and government decision makers across Canada, to act in the
public interest and to reject TWUs application for accreditation of its law school program and to withdraw all
approvals and consents on the basis that its policies and practices are discriminatory and contrary to the
principles of human rights law in Canada. In addition, FACL advocates for the inclusion of a nondiscrimination policy as a condition that all law schools must adhere to in order to maintain its accreditation.



FACL Supports the Decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada to Refuse to Accredit
the Proposed Law Program of Trinity Western University

September 8, 2014

With chapters in Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, the mission of the Federation of
Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL) is to promote equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian
Canadian legal professionals and the wider community.

As a representative of members from equity-seeking groups, FACL strongly supports the
decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) to refuse to accredit the proposed law
program of Trinity Western University (TWU), a decision that TWU now seeks to overturn.
Though FACL acknowledges the importance of religious freedom and encourages a diversity
of views, at the same time, FACL denounces attempts to institutionalize discrimination,
especially within the legal profession.

FACL continues to believe that the imposition of a covenant to abstain from sexual intimacy
that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and woman as a requirement for
law school admission and employment at TWU, is discriminatory. This requirement
negatively impacts upon the human dignity of persons within the lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transsexual and transgender community.

Further, FACL believes that the LSUC decision to refuse accreditation is consistent with the
LSUCs mandate to carryout its duty to advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to
act in the public interest and to facilitate access to justice for people of Ontario.

In April, 2014, when the LSUC deliberated on the issue of TWUs accreditation, Avvy Go, a
LSUC bencher and a founding member of FACL, recounted the story of Kew Dock Yip, who in
1947, became the first Chinese Canadian to practice law in Canada. Though Mr. Yip was
born in British Columbia, he was initially denied entrance into law school because the law
school decided to limit admissions to those who had the right to vote. Mr. Yip, being
Chinese, did not have a right of citizenship and consequently, did not have a right to vote.
Fortunately, at that time, Osgoode Hall Law School in Ontario did not have the same
admission requirement, and it is there that Mr. Yip graduated with a law degree. However,
Ontario was not free from racial discrimination as Mr. Yip was refused entry into the exam
room to write his bar admissions on his first few attempts. In the closing words of Ms. Go:

I'm sure back then the British Columbia Law Society and the law school
which rejected Mr. Yip had absolutely no doubt about their legal authority or
even their moral authority to exclude Chinese Canadians from the legal
profession at that time. In fact, on its face, the rules barring Chinese had

Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, 20 Toronto Street, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M5C 2B8
www.facl.ca

nothing to do with race at all, it was simply based on the very technical rule
about the right to vote.

As we all know, our rules and our laws were both reflection of the prevailing
social values and, sadly, for a very long time the prevailing social values in
Canada were to preserve a white Canada at the expense of our first peoples
and people of colour.

So today I hope that our prevailing social values will tell us something
different. It will tell us that no one should be prohibited from entering law
school and becoming a lawyer because of race, gender, disability, sexual
orientation and so on.

In this spirit, FACL believes that all law schools across Canada must create a forum for free
exchange of ideas, premised upon tolerance, respect and opportunity for equal
participation.

Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, 20 Toronto Street, Suite 300, Toronto, ON M5C 2B8
www.facl.ca