Debate over Trinity Western University’s bid to open a new law school in B.C. has overshadowed the religious freedom fight faced by a 166-year-old Montreal high school.
Yet when the Supreme Court of Canada hears arguments next month in the dispute between Loyola High School and the government of Quebec, the implications will be at least as far reaching as TWU’s bid to marry an evangelical Christian ethos with accreditation of our next generation of lawyers.
The private B.C. liberal arts college is embroiled in controversy, of course, for its intention to have law students sign the school’s community covenant governing, among other things, sexual conduct. Some provincial law societies have warned they might refuse recognition of Trinity law degrees because the covenant is deemed discriminatory of married gay couples.
The Loyola case steers clear of the turbid waters of sexual politics, but could chart an equally decisive course for Canadian society. The school is challenging a Quebec government decree that one lower court judge called near-totalitarian in its arbitrariness. It is also asking the Supreme Court to declare, against the claim of Quebec’s attorney general, that Charter guarantees of religious freedom apply corporately as well as individually.