Provincial advanced education minister Amrik Virk has warned Trinity Western University that he may withdraw approval of a controversial new law school at the Langley institution.
The Monday, Nov. 17 letter from Virk to TWU president Bob Kuhn says it’s because of the legal battles between the private Christian university and the various law societies that refused to recognize the school, including the Law Society of British Columbia decision to withdraw its earlier approval.
Virk says his Dec 18, 2013 approval of the law school requires the university to enroll its first students within three years, a deadline he doubts they can meet.
” … it seems unlikely that there will be a final determination by the courts with respect to the decisions by the various law societies … before my conditional consent will expire,” Virk says.
“As a result, I am considering revoking my consent for TWU’s proposed law program.”
Virk has given the university until Friday, Nov. 28 to make “written submissions” to convince him otherwise.
If he does withdraw his approval, Virk says “TWU would, of course, be welcome to resubmit a further application in the future, when the legal issues have been determined.”
“We are considering our response,” TWU President Kuhn said in a written statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“We remain confident that the carefully evaluated decision of the Minister will not change because of public pressure.”
The university said its Community Covenant, which has been criticized for being anti-gay, has restarted a national discussion on religious freedom.
“The University is so much more than the debate surrounding the Covenant,” Kuhn said.
“We are open and welcoming, and believe in the rights of all Canadians to their personal beliefs and values.”
Full text of Virk letter:
Ministry of Advanced Education
Office of the Minister
Mailing Address: PO Box 9080
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9E2
Location: Parliament Buildings Victoria
Our Ref. 98451
November 17, 2014
Mr. Robert Kuhn, President
Trinity Western University
7600 Glover Rd
Langley BC V2Y 1Y1
Dear Mr. Kuhn:
I write in response to your letter of October 31, 2014 advising that Trinity Western University (“TWU”) intends to bring a legal challenge to the decision of the Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia that the proposed law faculty at TWU is not an approved program for the purpose of admission to the bar in British Columbia.
I am aware that TWU has also brought legal challenges to the decisions of the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) and the Law Society of Nova Scotia not to approve the proposed law faculty at TWU.
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.
In the circumstances, it seems unlikely that there will be a final determination by the courts with respect to the decisions by the various law societies, including the Law Society of British Columbia, not to approve the proposed law faculty at TWU before my conditional consent will expire. 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.
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. If I decide to revoke my consent after considering TWU’s submissions, TWU would, of course, be welcome to resubmit a further application in the future, when the legal issues have been determined.
I would ask that you please provide your submissions to me in this regard by close of business on November 28, 2014.
pc: Sandra Carroll
Ministry of Advanced Education
Assistant Deputy Attorney General
Ministry of Justice
Full text of 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.