TWU - A response to the National Post Editorial Board
Dr. Angela Cameron, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of OttawaMark L. Berlin, Professor of Practice, Institute for the Study of International Development,
Amy Sakalauskas, Practicing Member, Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
Robert Peterson, Counsel at Dominion GovLaw.ca
Mathieu Bouchard, Partner, Irving Mitchell Kalichman LLP
In an editorial published on December 20, 2013 on the heel of the approval of Trinity Western University’s proposed law school by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the B.C. Government, the National Post editorial board argues that “Canada can handle a Christian law school” (http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/12/20/national-post-editorial-board-canada-can-handle-a-christian-law-school/). The National Post invokes two arguments: 1) because all other law schools across Canada are open to LGBTTQ individuals, allowing one school that effectively excludes them doesn’t lead to exclusion since other options exist; 2) whereas “mere racist bigotry” can never be tolerated, “the proscription of gay sex contained in the Bible and the traditional Christian teachings that derive therefrom” is guaranteed by the Charter protection of freedom of religion and conscience.
Both arguments, besides being deeply offensive to LGBTTQ individuals and their friends and allies, are fundamentally flawed.
Looking at the first argument, one instance of discrimination is one too many. Indeed, our courts have never accepted that an individual, organization or corporation be allowed to discriminate against a specific group on the basis that they were the only one doing so. The National Post’s approach would lead to a race to the bottom, protecting the last bigot standing in every field of human activity! This is clearly not what the Charter stands for. Most importantly, arguments that are reminiscent of those invoked to justify minority quotas in certain Canadian and U.S. universities until the 1960s, not to say the “separate but equal” mantra of the segregation era, have no place in today’s Canada.
On the second argument, the National Post appears to forget that until very recently, in addition to the prohibition of gay sex, the Bible was used to justify “mere racist bigotry”. South Africa’s Apartheid, U.S. southern states’ prohibition of interracial marriages, discriminatory laws and policies against Jews in Christian-dominated countries, to name a few, all supposedly found their source in the Bible. Did it make them any more acceptable? Of course not! Bigotry in the delivery of public services, whatever its origins, is a scourge that cannot be “excused” by religion, whoever the targets of the bigotry are.
The Canadian Charter and provincial human rights codes protect all minorities from discrimination, without distinction. The same way we wouldn’t accept a law school that excludes women, Asians or people with a disability, the same way we shouldn’t accept one that excludes individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation. Period.