Canadian Education: Whose Values? Whose Rights? The Trinity Western University Case, 7(20)


  • J. Kent Donlevy


This paper outlines the facts and salient issues surrounding the British Columbia College of Teachers' refusal to certify a Christian-based teacher education program at Trinity Western University, a private university in that province. The key argument revolves around both provincial and constitutional law which protect the public values of non-discrimination and equity, in the gay community (in particular the youth), and the democratic right of the Christian community to freedom of religious beliefs, as espoused in their institution, and while seeking public accreditation of their teacher education program. The decisions of both the majority and the dissent at the Supreme Court of Canada are examined in detail, focusing upon the inherent value differences in their positions from both contractarian and communitarian perspectives. The Court's approach to the balancing of legal rights, and hence values, when in conflict highlights the majority's view that freedom in a democracy is the fountainhead from which flow individual rights and not visa-versa. Moreover, those rights ought properly to be viewed as of equal value not in a hierarchy. Lastly, the Court's approach to values in conflict is proffered as a method which educational policy makers might well consider when dealing with pedagogical values in conflict.