Graduates of the law school at B.C.'s Trinity Western University will be able to practise in New Brunswick, as a move to rescind their future accreditation failed to pass today.
The council of the Law Society of New Brunswick debated a motion Friday morning in Fredericton to revoke the accreditation of the law school at the B.C. university — a Christian school that requires all students and staff to sign a covenant that prohibits same-sex relationships.
After debate of more than an hour, the vote ended 12-12, with the tie meaning the motion to rescind the accreditation failed.
The vote was held by a secret ballot.
The focus of the meeting was whether the law society will accredit graduates of Trinity Western's law school, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.
Kent Robinson, a lawyer who has represented Moncton's Crandall University, also a Christian school, defended institutions that hold sincere religious beliefs.
"I may not agree with it," Robinson said Friday, but, he said, institutions have the right to their religious beliefs.
Robinson said the law society also cannot discriminate against an institution based on its religious beliefs, even if it doesn't agree with them.
James O'Connell, another lawyer at Friday's council meeting, supported rescinding Trinity Western's accreditation.
"I view this as religious oppression. They are telling others how to behave," he said.
In June, the Law Society of New Brunswick’s council voted to accredit the program.
However, in September, law society members passed a resolution directing the council not to accredit the university.
Lawyers in New Brunswick aren’t the only ones having a difficult time deciding how to treat future Trinity Western graduates.
The Law Society of British Columbia also revisited its decision to accredit the Trinity program and it then reversed its decision. Trinity plans to file litigation against the B.C. law society.
To date, bar associations in Alberta and Saskatchewan have approved accreditation — although Saskatchewan has put its decision on hold, as has Manitoba.
Law societies in Ontario and Nova Scotia voted against accreditation, which caused the school to challenge those decisions in the courts in both provinces.