HALIFAX - Excluding law school graduates from practising in Nova Scotia because they attended a university that prohibits same-sex intimacy would be discriminatory, the university's president told the province's bar society Tuesday.
Bob Kuhn, president of Trinity Western University, told the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society in Halifax it would be unfair if it did not recognize law school degrees from his school because of its community covenant that requires students, faculty and staff to respect Christian values.
"That's an audacious example of prejudice," said Kuhn.
The faith-based university in Langley, B.C., wants to open a law school in 2016, and a society panel is holding hearings to determine whether it should allow its graduates to practise in Nova Scotia.
Kuhn began his remarks by saying he is a practising Christian and has been a lawyer for more than three decades. He encouraged the panel to proceed "as lawyers, and not as personal representatives of any ideological viewpoints."
The school's policy prohibiting same-sex intimacy has sparked controversy, but Kuhn said the matter raises the larger question of whether there is still meaningful freedom of religion in Canada.
Kuhn said he has never had a complaint against him claiming discrimination, adding that Trinity Western University has a record of academic excellence and has done nothing to deserve the treatment it has received.
He said as a graduate of Trinity Western University himself, he finds any suggestion that his religious beliefs would prevent him from being professional and ethical in his duties as a lawyer offensive.
Last month, the society heard from lawyers, legal experts and others, most of whom urged it to deny accreditation to the school because they say their position on same-sex intimacy is discriminatory.
In December, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada gave Trinity Western University preliminary approval for its law school program and said it was up to provincial law societies to decide whether to recognize degrees from the school.
The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society is the first legal group in the country to hold such a forum. The society's executive committee will have a report and recommendation for its council to consider on April 25.