I arrived back from my visit to Japan just in time to find out the result of the referendum. The outcome was really no surprise. Our members spoke clearly – 8,039 voted, and that in itself is a significant measure of the importance they attach to this issue. In comparison, at the special general meeting, 4,178 came out to vote. Of those who voted in the referendum, 74 per cent do not want to accredit TWU.
The next day in our meeting, the Benchers passed a motion that TWU is not an approved faculty of law for the purposes of our admission program. There was little discussion at the meeting, the motion was moved, seconded and passed. After all our work on this issue – the legal opinions, submissions, the April meeting and vote, the special general meeting and the referendum - the vote at the meeting was expedited quickly and efficiently.
Everybody expects the matter will now be decided by the courts. As lawyers, we know better than anyone that difficult issues go to the court for determination. And this issue is certainly at the top of the difficulty meter.
Never before have we seen members turn out in such numbers for a vote. I’m proud to see the engagement of the profession on this issue. The Benchers listened to their views, and came to terms with how the referendum should be positioned in the context of all the submissions, legal opinions and other materials they reviewed on this matter. In the end they had to make a difficult decision.
This decision was about weighing charter rights – religious freedom versus equality rights. In this delicate situation where reasonable, informed people can and do disagree, the Benchers discussed, voted and decided respectfully and thoughtfully. Now, we will wait for guidance from the courts.