OTTAWA, May 17, 2001 ( – The Supreme Court of Canada ruled 8-1 today in favour of Trinity Western, a Christian university whose students were refused accreditation by the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT) since the school’s code of conduct requires students and teachers to refrain from “homosexual behaviour” and other objectionable actions such as abortion. The Supreme Court upheld the decisions of lower Courts, which ordered the BCCT to grant accreditation to the teacher education program of Trinity Western University.

Writing on behalf of the majority, Justices Iacobucci and Bastarache said that the BCCT failed to take “into account the impact of its decision on the right to freedom of religion of the members of TWU.” They noted, “It cannot be reasonably concluded that private institutions are protected but that their graduates are de facto considered unworthy of fully participating in public activities.”

Gary Walsh, President of Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), an intervenor in the case, said the ruling “will put to rest the fears of other religiously-based colleges and seminaries that are worried that their students will face discrimination upon graduation.” Janet Epp Buckingham, EFC’s general legal counsel called the ruling “the most important decision on religious freedom in years,” agreeing particularly with the court’s statement that “tolerance of divergent beliefs is a hallmark of a democratic society.”

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, another intervener, welcomed the decision calling it, “a strong affirmation and much needed reminder that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and public freedom that is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” The CCCB said the decision “confirms that it is wrong to stereotype people with religious beliefs as intolerant or to suggest that students of religious institutions are unqualified to work in the public sector . . . it reinforces . . . in a truly free society there is freedom of but not freedom from religion.”

Not surprisingly, feminist-activist Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé was the lone dissenter in the ruling. During the hearing, L’Heureux-Dubé was quoted as saying, “‘We have all this love stuff,’ but if Trinity’s code stated that blacks were inferior to whites, or that Jews should be killed, would its teachers still be fit for public schools?” Dubé is a known homosexual activist, having spoken at homosexual conferences in favour of legal recognition of homosexuals living together. “In failing to recognize and support partnerships, traditional and otherwise, are we not doing violence to the fabric of our community?” asked L’Heureux-Dube in her keynote talk given October 20, 1999.

For the full Supreme Court decision see:

For background on the case see: