The issue centres on the Trinity Western case; the Court has agreed to hear two conflicting appeals on whether the Langley-based Christian university should be allowed to open a law school. One of the Justices on the court, Richard Wagner, had been tasked with deciding which groups would be given intervenor status in the case. On July 28th, Justice Wagner decided on allowing 9 intervenors – including ARPA – to appear before the court. Five of the nine intervenors were opposed to the idea of a Christian Law School.
But those numbers weren’t enough for some people. The announcement prompted a firestorm of protest on social media, particularly from gay rights groups who claimed they were being denied a chance to be heard. So a few days later, the Chief Justice issued an order “varying” Wagner’s decision and allowing a total of 26 groups to intervene.
Wagner subsequently spoke to the Globe and Mail about the way the situation developed, saying that when he was made aware of the concerns being expressed on social media, he sought out the Chief Justice to see what could be done about the concerns.
ARPA lawyer John Sikkema says the decision is disturbing because of indications that the court is responding to political pressure. “It seems like that’s the kind of thing that a court is designed to be insulated from; that’s the point of the court being independent from political institutions and elected offices, is that it’s more immune from those kinds of concerns.” However, Sikkema says there may be an upside to this as well: “Should the court rule in favour of Trinity Western, then at least those groups who oppose Trinity Western will have had a hearing; they won’t be able to say ‘you favoured Trinity Western without even having heard the groups most concerned about approving that school.’”
The case will be heard over two days at the end of November.