84: Supreme Court of Canada Jumps the Shark—Bruce Pardy (full audio podcast below)
Canada has many private colleges and universities. It almost had a Christian law school. The number of these will remain zero for the foreseeable future thanks for a stunning 7-2 decision by Canada’s Supreme Court that forbids the establishment of the Trinity Western Law School in Langley, BC.
Because Trinity Western is an evangelical institution that holds to the traditional biblical view of sexuality, and because prospective students must sign a Covenant Agreement in which they agree to avoid drunkenness, gossip, plagiarism, any form of hazing or intimidation, with emphasis (I’m quoting now) the Christian “virtues of honesty, civility, truthfulness, generosity and integrity.” Trinity Western make no bones about the fact that its “community life are formed by a firm commitment to the person and work of Jesus Christ as declared in the Bible.”
So far so good. Except that the Agreement also says the following:
- observe modesty, purity and appropriate intimacy in all relationships, reserve sexual expressions of intimacy for marriage, and within marriage take every reasonable step to resolve conflict and avoid divorce
- sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman
No explicit reference to homosexuality here, but touching (or approaching too close) to the untouchable third rail is exactly what triggered the legal battle, starting with the Law Societies of B.C., Ontario, and Nova Scotia, that eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Bruce Pardy was introduced to me by Dr. Jordan Peterson. Pardy is professor of law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and he thinks this decision is a cruel joke on all Canadians. In my interview, he explains exactly why. Professor Pardy has a libertarian-style view of the definition of marriage, and the TWU Covenant Agreement is not his cup of tea. But that’s not the point, is it? What happened to good old Canadian diversity? Is there really no room for even one Christian law school that upholds the traditional biblical view of marriage? This view, one notes, is shared generally by the Catholic Church, many other Protestant bodies, as well as Orthodox Jewish, Mormons, and Muslim organizations (the non-polygamous ones at any rate).
If someone is offended by the rules of a private school, he or she should refuse to go. No problem. But that’s not enough for the LGBTQS2 (lesbian gay bisexual transgender questioning two spirited) activists who opposed the school’s plans from the get-go, despite the fact that TWU is a private institution of higher learning. Backed by powerful legal interests across Canada and a broadly accepted presupposition about the redefinition of marriage and the ever “evolving Canadian Charter values,” their fight ended last month with this astounding decision.
In this episode you will learn:
- How the shift from Charter rights (which are concrete, verbally explicit things) to Charter values (which are ephemeral, fleeting things) softened the ground for the high Court’s reasoning
- How the interests of a tiny minority became the tail that currently wags the Canadian dog
- Why the Court’s reasoning unwittingly promotes very unjust discrimination the Justices opine they oppose
- The eerie similarity between “the vibe of the thing” (a comedy reference that will make sense once you hear the interview) and the “penumbra” of the 1965 Griswold v Connecticut, which paved the way for Roe v Wade via an alleged “right to privacy” in the U.S. Constitution
- How this disastrous decision is a wake-up call for those who have been lulled into thinking reasonable accommodations will be made going forward for private educational institutions that go against the grain of PC culture.
- Why it may signal the death knell of the much-vaunted pluralism that has characterized Canadian society since the Quebec Act of 1774
- Why it should matter to Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, the Salvation Army, Mormons, or any group that assumes they can freely form communities with their own self-regulating rules
Resources recommended in this episode:
- Professor Pardy’s presence, writing, and contact information on the Queen’s University website
- Pardy’s essay on the decision in The National Post newspaper.
- Australian classic comedy The Castle
- The implications of the decision in The National Post by Ray Pennings of the faith-based think tank Cardus.
Question of the week
How did it come about that the court system has slowly become activist against and domineering toward traditional Christian beliefs?
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