Trinity Western University should not be permitted to open a law school in British Columbia while it discriminates against a class of people based on their sexual orientation.
The benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia have the authority to determine whether any new law school is an approved faculty of law. In April, by a vote of 20-7, the benchers decided to approve the proposed school. I was in the minority then, and suspect I remain so now, despite the June 11 special general meeting of the membership where an overwhelming majority of the province’s lawyers voted against accreditation.
This issue will be back in front of the benchers in September, when two resolutions will be considered. One, which I support, would implement the result of the special general meeting, while the second resolution contemplates subjecting the issue to a binding referendum. I feel such a step is unnecessary and expensive. Too much members’ money has already been spent on this divisive issue.
It is all quite unfortunate, because TWU could stop all this nonsense with the stroke of a pen – by simply deleting the objective part of its anachronistic “Community Covenant”. This is an objectionable document, for it discriminates against married same sex couples by prohibiting them from engaging in sexual relations while working or studying at the institution. Married heterosexual couples, on the other hand, enjoy the freedom to do as they please.
To me, it is just plain wrong for an institution of higher learning to discriminate against a class of people and make them feel unwelcome. If TWU must do so, it should not be allowed to train tomorrow’s lawyers and judges.
*The views expressed herein, as elsewhere on this website, are solely those of the author, Cameron Ward, and should not be construed as reflecting the opinion of any other person or group with whom I may be affiliated.
posted by Cameron Ward
Ivan William Mervin Henry was incarcerated for almost 27 years in respect of crimes he did not commit. He was ultimately acquitted by the Court of Appeal on October 27, 2010 but has not received any compensation from the state for the miscarriage of justice that occurred in his case. Here is a timeline of some of the events in the saga:
1980-1982: Dozens of sexual assaults with a similar distinctive modus operandi occur in Vancouver.
May 12, 1982: Mr. Henry is arrested by Vancouver police and forced into a physical lineup viewed by several victims.
July 29, 1982: Mr. Henry is charged with 17 counts of sexual assault and arrested.
February 28-March 15, 1983: Mr. Henry is tried by Mr. Justice Bouck and a jury on ten counts. Michael Luchenko and Judith Milliken are the prosecutors; Mr. Henry represents himself. The Crown adduces no physical evidence linking Mr. Henry to any of the crime scenes or assaults (although perpetrator semen and other physical evidence was retrieved during the investigation) and relies only on the testimony of the complainants. Mr. Henry is found guilty of all charges on March 15, 1983 and remains in custody for sentencing.
April 12, 1983-July, 1988: More than two dozen similar sexual assaults are perpetrated in Vancouver while Mr. Henry remains in custody.
November 23, 1983: Mr. Henry is declared a dangerous offender and sentenced to an indefinite period of incarceration.
February 24, 1984: The Court of Appeal grants the Crown’s application to have Mr. Henry’s appeal from conviction dismissed for want of prosecution after he failed to obtain the trial transcripts.
November 24, 2004: Following a review of historic sexual assault cases, Donald James McRae is charged with three sexual assaults from the 1980s.
May 27, 2005: Mr. McRae pleads guilty to the charges and is sentenced to five years in prison.
November 15, 2006: Lawyer Leonard Doust Q.C. is appointed by the Criminal Justice Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General for BC to review Mr. Henry’s case to determine “whether there had been a potential miscarriage of justice.”
March 28, 2008: The Criminal Justice Branch releases a summary of Mr. Doust’s recommendations.
January 13, 2009: The Court of Appeal orders that Mr. Henry’s appeal be re-opened. Mr. Henry is released on bail pending the hearing of his appeal, with an electronic monitoring bracelet attached to his leg.
October 27, 2010: The Court of Appeal allows the appeal, sets aside the verdicts and enters acquittals, stating, among other things, “the verdict on each count was not one that a properly instructed jury acting judicially could reasonably have rendered.”
June 28, 2011: Mr. Henry files a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for his wrongful conviction. The defendants include the City of Vancouver, the Attorney General of British Columbia and the Attorney General of British Columbia.
April 18, 2013: The BC Supreme Court decides that Mr. Henry’s claim for Charter damages against the Crown prosecutors can succeed if he establishes at trial that their conduct amounted to a marked departure from the standards expected of them.
January 21, 2014: The Court of Appeal finds the BC Supreme Court judge erred in in its decision and asserts that Mr. Henry has to establish malice on the part of the trial prosecutors to succeed against the provincial Crown.
May 15, 2014: The Supreme Court of Canada allows Mr. Henry’s application for leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision. The appeal is set for hearing in November of 2014. Mr. Henry’s civil claim for compensation is now scheduled to proceed to a 100 day trial commencing August 31, 2015.
posted by Cameron Ward
May 15, 2014 in Opinion
Today, the Supreme Court of Canada granted our client Ivan Henry’s application for leave to appeal a January 2014 decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal that would have affected his civil claim for compensation for his wrongful conviction. Mr. Henry was acquitted and freed by the Court of Appeal in a 2010 decision, but the government refused to pay him any compensation for the 27 years he spent behind bars.
Mr. Henry brought a lawsuit for damages, which was scheduled to proceed to trial on September 8, 2014, but he will likely now have to wait another year or so for his day in court.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s description of the case:
Charter of rights – Crown law – Crown liability – Applicant wrongfully convicted and incarcerated during almost 27 years – Subsequent civil claim against provincial Crown for, inter alia, malicious prosecution and seeking Charter damages for non-disclosure of evidence at trial – Whether Crown prosecutors liable for anything less than malicious prosecution – Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ss. 7, 11(d), 24(1).
Mr. Henry was convicted in 1983 of 10 sexual offence counts, was declared a dangerous offender and sentenced to an indefinite period of incarceration. He remained incarcerated for almost 27 years, until granted bail in 2009, and was acquitted in October 2010. Mr. Henry then sought damages against, inter alia, the prosecutors for the injuries he alleges he suffered as a consequence of the wrongful conviction and incarceration. The claim relates to the actions of Crown counsel through the course of the trial and subsequent appeal processes.
Mr. Henry is seeking damages under s. 24(1) of the Charter and, to that end, successfully applied for leave to amend his pleadings to include the following:
120. The various acts and omissions that violated the Plaintiff’s right to disclosure and/or his right to full answer and defence and/or his right to a fair trial, as described in paragraphs 113-119 above, were a marked and unacceptable departure from the reasonable standards expected of the Crown counsel.
The amendment was subsequently refused by the B.C. Court of Appeal, on the basis that Supreme Court authority currently forecloses prosecutorial liability for negligence and requires evidence of malice.
posted by Cameron Ward
Today, the benchers in Convocation (the governing body) of the Law Society of Upper Canada voted, by a margin of 28-21 against a motion to accredit the Trinity Western University law school.
The text of the motion read:
Given that the Federation Approval Committee has provided preliminary approval to the TWU law program in accordance with processes Convocation approved in 2010 respecting the national requirement and in 2011 respecting the approval of law school academic requirements, should the Law Society of Upper Canada now accredit TWU pursuant to section 7 of By-Law 4?
posted by Cameron Ward
As the Law Society of Upper Canada debates today whether to accredit Trinity Western University’s proposed law school, the Law Society of British Columbia has announced that it will convene a special general meeting of the province’s 12,000 lawyers to revisit the benchers’ decision of April 11, 2014. The text of today’s announcement is here:
“On April 23, 2014, the Law Society received a written request to convene a special general meeting of the Society, which was signed by at least five per cent of the members. The nature of the business that is proposed to be considered at the meeting is a resolution directing the Benchers to declare, pursuant to Law Society Rule 2-27(4.1) that Trinity Western University is not an approved faculty of law. A resolution passed at a general meeting is not binding on the Benchers except as provided in section 13 of the Legal Profession Act. Lawyers interested in this decision who have not already done so are encouraged to read the supporting documents considered by the Benchers and review the webcast that has been archived. In accordance with our Rules, the Benchers will call a special general meeting within 60 days of the request. A notice of the special general meeting will be mailed to members at least 21 days before the meeting”.