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Victoria lawyer wants to regulate beliefs
Editor: Religious freedom and freedoms of conscience, thought, expression and assembly have come under serious threat lately. The Law Society of B.C. recently approved the proposed law school at Trinity Western University by an overwhelming vote of the benchers.
However, immediately following the vote, a lawyer from Victoria was able to garner a few hundred signatures to force the law society to revisit the matter, by calling for a vote by all lawyers in B.C. This lobbyist would like to have the law society ignore the Supreme Court of Canada and deny students graduating from TWU the right to practise their profession in B.C., because of their beliefs or choice of assembly.
Fortunately, none of the arguments brought forth by the lobbyist have any basis of fact supporting them, and the arguments themselves are illogical. For instance, he raises the lawyers’ oath by interpreting it to say that lawyers must uphold the law as interpreted a certain way. If lawyers were so bound to uphold the law, no law could ever be changed again. Absurd.
The oath actually requires lawyers to uphold the rule of law, which is essential to a democracy. Lawyers have risked their lives for centuries to use the rule of law to change existing laws to establish basic human rights, including the right to free speech, belief and assembly. That would not have been possible if the law societies in those days had barred lawyers who held certain unpopular beliefs, for instance that women should have the vote, that slavery should be abolished or that religious groups should not be persecuted.
A lawyer’s oath also requires the lawyer not to pervert the law to favour or prejudice anyone. Barring Trinity grads from professions because of their beliefs and their voluntary association with the university is as prejudicial as it can get.
Are we seriously being asked to turn back the clock and support a drive to deny certain people the right to practice a profession in B.C., because of their beliefs?
The law society, or any other professional regulator, has no business regulating our personal beliefs and acting as the Thought Police. Meanwhile, there is not one shred of evidence that Trinity grads would be anything other than competent lawyers with a high standard of practice.
Hopefully, sanity will prevail when lawyers are asked to vote on this matter in a few months, and they will uphold the decision of the law society benchers.
Cos Van Wermeskerken,