On Trinity Western Law School

Trinity Western University’s (TWU) proposed law school has sparked debate across the country, not only in British Columbia, where it will operate, but also in Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (NSBS) held a public meeting recently and opened the floor to the public and legal professionals to present their concerns and opinions about the implications of TWU’s Christian mandate. In addition, there were several written reviews submitted to the Society in previous weeks.

TWU is a private Christian university and part of their faith-based mandate includes a community covenant that outlines values and principles that staff and students must espouse. The agreement, which requires signatories to abstain from, “Sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and woman,” has created tension among the public and legal community, and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s (FLSC) approval of the university’s law school this past December has exacerbated the dispute. The FLSC approval committee concluded that TWU has the capacity to provide a quality education to its student body, comparable to other Canadian law schools, however, the decision to recognize students with degrees from TWU falls under provincial jurisdiction.

Some provinces, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Ontario have requested external input before making an official decision about whether they will accept TWU-educated law students, yet, whereas other provinces have chosen simply to accept FLSC’s decision.

Gathering public opinion on these issues is theoretically understandable, however, ultimately, the decision should be consistent with the FLSC. This would not only ensure that lawyers can continue to practice throughout the country, but also it upholds religious freedoms, which are entrenched in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As long TWU graduates represent Canada’s legal principles and abide by Canadian rules and regulations, personal beliefs are irrelevant.

For instance, refusing to recognize law degrees from a Christian university illustrates another form of discrimination. Although TWU requires students to espouse the values outlined in the university’s community covenant, they continue to accept gay and lesbian students that choose to study there. The province’s should also accept lawyers with varying beliefs and opinions, so long as they are able to put them aside to uphold the law. Diversity includes accepting differing religious beliefs and censuring prospective law students from studying in a religious setting is adverse to the principle.

Nevertheless, debate over this issue is certain to continue and some provinces are just beginning the process already begun British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. While there has been support of, and opposition to, TWU’s proposed law school in Nova Scotia, however, it appears that the provincial government will discredit law degrees based on discrimination against the LGBT community. In any case, the government will decide in April and it will be interesting to see whether popular opinion influences the NSBS, causing it to lose sight of the fact that TWU law graduates will receive an acceptable legal education and compelling it to focus solely on their personal beliefs.

Rachel Lowe is a 2013-2014 Atlantic Institute for Market Studies’ Student Fellow. The views expressed are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the Institute

Ontario’s Throne Speech: The Coming Budget

It has been said that Liberals ask, “How can government solve the problem,” where as Libertarians ask, “How can the individual solve the problem?”  If it is any sign that there is truth in that statement, one need only look at the Throne Speech from Kathleen Wynne.  After having expanded her cabinet to include 27 ministers, it is hard to see how anyone can believe she will actually make the tough decisions needed to get the economy back on track.

Some of the most interesting phrases in this speech included, “The tools of progress must be forged in the fire of our collective will” (On twitter @LukewSavage questioned if that was an intentional shout out to Lenin).  She speech also said, “We all gaze upon different skylines.” Another beautiful image, though I question its relevance.  There was also mention of a new youth advisory council.

In short, the speech had many beautiful words and symbols, but lacked on meaningful content and solid plans.  As the new Premier-Agriculture Minister her speech lacked real content about agriculture.  The Liberals did not tell us how government would solve the problem, however they vaguely alluded to job creation, and various changes that would be good for Ontario.  Unfortunately, they did not leave much room for the individual to solve the problem either.

Tim Hudak, leader of the official opposition said his party would vote against the speech: “A little bit of PC, a little bit of NDP and a whole lot of Dalton McGuinty isn’t going to get us out of this mess … we’re not going to be supporting the throne speech.”  Andrea Horwath, leader of the NDP, seemed open to compromise.  Regardless, the deciding factor will be the budget.  With a shaky minority government, and a new Premier, Ontario could be headed into an election any time now.  We know that Tim Hudak wants an election, as the PC’s have nominated most of their candidates.  We certainly know that Kathleen Wynne wants to hold onto power.  The only question is the NDPs. Do they want to pick up a few seats, or exert their influence over the Liberals and shift the budget to the left?  Horwath is seeking a job-subsidy program for youth employment, corporate tax reform, a reduction in car insurance rates, and improved home care for seniors.  Over the next few weeks Ontario will see if she is asking too much, or if it’s the cost of compromise for Ontario’s Liberal Party.

-Alanna Newman

Ontario’s Ravenous Puppetmasters

The reins of power in Canada’s most populous province reside with whichever party holds control over Queen’s Park. There’s nothing overly controversial with that statement, most people would agree with it, I mean, it’s a fact isn’t it? The reality that political parties comprised of politicians elected by us run our affairs is one which we all consciously or sub-consciously accept and understand to be true. Now, what if that wasn’t true? What is the reality was far different?

In today’s financially drought stricken Ontario, the real rulers aren’t the governing Liberals precariously holding on to the illusion of power. Ontario’s McGuinty-Wynne band of public dollar arsonists have long since auctioned themselves off to private interest groups, mostly to satiate their addiction to power. The big bosses behind the scenes are the public sector unions, who, more so than any other group, are best equipped to rule behind the scenes.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, along with the OSSTF, OPSEU, and CUPE rule the province. By reinforcing and supporting McGuinty’s rise to power these unions have helped secure a 300,000 staff boost to the size of the public sector, resulting in huge increases in member’s fees. Almost every demand for heightened public sector benefits, pay, and pensions demanded by the unions has been given by the government. The effects of this dark relationship have been significant. Ontario has suffered under three terms of OLP waste and corruption, and a period of almost surreal, unbridled prosperity for unions has occurred. Who paid for all of this? Well the Ontario taxpayer of course, at a cost of $12 billion for this year alone, and over $110 billion for the last 9 years.

The governing Liberals handed out so much money that when they eventually ran out of it, the bacon for votes relationship collapsed. The unions awoke from their complacent slumber and immediately waged war, resulting in a long end to extracurriculars, instability in the school system, strikes, and the selection of a new Premier. The Liberals under Premier Wynne are now desperately trying to appease the unions and rebuild the golden relationship which served both groups so well. Wynne says she won’t hand over any ‘new’ money, but can we really trust the same woman who played a role in the $1 billion gas plant fiasco, among so many other scandals?

The truth is that the unions have it easy from a political perspective. With both the NDP and the Liberals eager to do their bidding, they can pick and choose. If the NDP cannot be counted on to obey, support can be shifted to the Liberals. The only threat to the public sector union agenda of bigger government and higher public spending, regardless of the costs to the taxpayer, is the Progressive Conservative Party. Keeping the Tories out of office is all that it takes for the province to continue its slide towards a $30 billion deficit and eventual bankruptcy.

By funding the Working Families Coalition’s misinformed, negative, one-dimensional ads, the public sector unions can target the Tories anytime they please. The political war chests of these behemoths are truly enormous; the ETFO alone has a $150 million ‘Defense Fund.’ According to the ETFO Constitution, if this fund dips below $150 million, members’ fees are automatically raised and maintained until it is restored.

The reality is that government’s must govern for the general public, not for individual private interest groups, of which the public sector unions are by far the most powerful, most affluent, and most addicted to never ending pork. Regardless of the state of the economy or the public finances, Ontario’s public sector unions will never lose their entitlement to more benefits at the expense of everyone else. These hypocritical groups, which claim to represent working families, are in fact destroying the hopes of average people by bankrupting their government and destroying the competitiveness of their economy.

It’s time for Ontario to be run by a political party not beholden to the greedy unions; it’s time Ontario families voted for sustainable public finances and economic competitiveness.

-Dino Alec