Ottawa: On December 1st, the World Sikh Organization of Canada presented oral arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada in the seminal Trinity Western University appeal (Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western University, et al. and Trinity Western University, et al. v. Law Society of Upper Canada).
The TWU case revolves around the decision of the BC and Ontario law societies not to accredit graduates from Trinity Western University’s law program because of the university’s community covenant.
The WSO made submissions on the need to clarify administrative law principles concerning the standard of review that decisions of administrative bodies are subject to when constitutional rights are implicated. WSO counsel argued that clarifying the appropriate standard of review in such instances will have impact beyond the TWU case, and have a lasting effect on how administrative decisions that infringe Charter values and rights are reviewed.
The WSO was the only non-Christian intervener in the case and was granted intervener status in the case by the Supreme Court of Canada on August July 31, 2017.
The WSO was represented by legal counsel Balpreet Singh and Avnish Nanda. In his oral arguments, Avnish Nanda argued that WSO submits that the same standard of review should apply in all situations where administrative decisions engage Constitutional matters.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said, “the WSO believes it is essential for the Sikh community’s perspective to be heard in important cases involving freedom of religion. While in the TWU appeal we did not take a position on the merits of the case, our argument focused on the broader issue of the standard of review for Charter cases. The issue of standard of review was key in cases like Multani and Loyola and will continue to have an impact in the future. Our submissions focused on the argument that different standards of review should not apply depending on the nature of the constitutional question that is engaged.”
The WSO was at the Supreme Court of Canada earlier in November 2017 in the Highwood appeal, also involving religious freedoms. This was the fifth time the WSO has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada and the fourth time in a case involving a non-Sikh appellant