A man trying to stop Trinity Western University from opening a law school says that he is looking for a new legal forum now that the Supreme Court of B.C. has dismissed his court challenge.
Trevor Loke, who is gay and wants to study law, had been seeking a declaration that B.C.'s minister of advanced education violated his constitutional right to be protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in December, 2013, when he decided to permit Trinity Western to start a law school.
The court ruled on Thursday that the petition Mr. Loke had brought to the court was moot because the provincial government revoked its approval of the planned law faculty.
But Mr. Loke said the discrimination issue he is raising is "a topic that's going to have to be dealt with," and he will look for another way to bring it forward.
"What we know is it's not going to be dealt with today in this case, but there are a number of other cases by which the courts will have to determine legal status … of Trinity Western University," said Mr. Loke, who is getting pro bono support from several lawyers. "Our case, at least for now, has been determined to be moot. But we're going to have to figure out our next steps and figure out what our options are legally to make sure there is a case that's heard by the courts [that raises the issue]."
Trinity Western, Canada's largest privately financed Christian university, has been under attack because it requires students to sign a covenant that commits them to refrain from sexual intimacy "that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman."
In his suit, Mr. Loke, 25, said his rights were violated because he is "unwilling to disavow his sexual identity." He argued that he would be denied access to the 60 proposed law school places because he would not sign the covenant.
In December, 2014, after Mr. Loke filed his case, Amrik Virk, who was then B.C.'s advanced education minister, revoked approval for the law school.
Mr. Loke said he did not withdraw the case because he wanted to continue the challenge.
Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled the petition moot because "the minister's withdrawal of his consent for the proposed law school clearly leaves a factual void."
Chief Justice Hinkson acknowledged that Mr. Loke had "attempted to raise an exceptional issue by challenging the covenant he perceives as discriminatory" and ordered the government pay his legal costs. And the judge noted the legal battle might not be finished.
"While I have dismissed Mr. Loke's petition … the minister has left open the possibility of revisiting his decision in future, [so] Mr. Loke's challenge has not necessarily concluded," Chief Justice Hinkson said.
Trinity Western is trying in three other court cases to overturn law societies' decisions not to accredit graduates of the proposed law school.
Mr. Loke said he might try to join those cases.
"There are cases in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia around the decisions the respective law societies have made. So we'll have to see what our involvement can be in terms of if we want to proceed to try to be an intervenor in those cases or not," he said. "The case is going to be heard in some form, at some point in time. The question is what that looks like in bringing it forward. And that's why we need to do a more holistic analysis of what the legal status of the other cases are and if we want to join those cases or if we want to wait for a future minister to change his mind [and approve the law school]."