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Lawyers argue Ottawa cannot strip certain people of citizenship

Toronto lawyers argue that the new law, which could allow the government to revoke the citizenship of someone who holds dual citizenship, is unconstitutional.


 

OTTAWA –A Federal Court judge is considering whether Parliament has the authority to pass a law that could see a Canadian-born terrorist stripped of their citizenship.

Two Toronto lawyers argue that the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act , which could allow the government to revoke the citizenship of someone who holds dual citizenship, is unconstitutional.

Previously, a person could be stripped of Canadian citizenship for attaining it through false representations.

But the new law expands the list of those vulnerable to revocation to include people born in Canada but eligible to claim citizenship in another country _ for instance, through their parents.

It also broadens the grounds for revocation to include several criminal offences including espionage, treason or terrorism.

After a day of arguments in court Thursday, Federal Court Judge Donald Rennie reserved his decision. But whichever way he rules, it’s expected the case will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The challenge was launched by lawyers Paul Slansky, who represented the Constitutional Rights Centre, and Rocco Galati, who has been a thorn in the side of the Conservative government by successfully challenging the appointment of Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court and has also challenged the appointment of a Quebec Court of Appeal judge.

They argue that Parliament did not have the authority to legislate on the issue based on language about citizenship in the constitution.

The public should pay attention to the case, Slansky said, because even though the government will say these changes only deal with treason and terrorism offences, it could go further.

“If the court says they have authority to do this, what’s to stop them from next week, next month, next year, from saying, ‘Well, we’re going to say you’re no longer a citizen if you’re convicted of any offence, or convicted of serious violent offences, or if you don’t vote for the Conservative party?” he said outside court.

Government lawyer Greg George says the provisions are not yet being enforced, but “if and when” they are, they will be used against someone who has committed “some of the most serious, serious things that can be done against the state.”

The judge wondered if the law creates two categories of Canadian citizens.

“We’re saying citizens that hold dual citizenship can be removed to another country,” Rennie said. “Citizens that don’t, aren’t going to be removed. And that creation of a distinction within the concept…has to be problematic.”

No one would be rendered stateless under the law, George said.

“The only time a person would not be treated equally, so to speak, is if, again, they’ve committed some heinous crime, some very serious crime in regards to the state,” he said. “It’s not that these provisions will be used against a group of people, ethnic, religious, what-have-you. It’s about individuals and their own choices.”

The provisions will apply equally to natural-born and naturalized citizens, he said.

Galati said people born in Canada are citizens, “period,” and once a citizen has been naturalized they have the same rights as someone who is natural born. Galati, who is himself a naturalized citizen, said unless there has been fraud in the naturalization process, the government does not have the legal authority to “yank back” that citizenship.


 

Lawyers argue Ottawa cannot strip certain people of citizenship

  1. Once you’re a Canadian, born or given….you’re a Canadian.

    I’m glad we have people guarding things like this.

    • once you commit terrorism in Canada you are not welcome. How would you feel if one or all of your family were targeted by some radical extremist after his rights were upheld? This would be another tool to use to hopefully prevent more of this domestic violence and terrorism. Put cameras on every corner, arrest every known radicalized person Canadian or not. Suspend their rights until they are fully investigated, hopefully about 25 years or so. Those that have something to hide should be worried, are you?

      • Paul Bernardo…Clifford Olson….Robert Pickton etc etc… they are Canadian, we take care of them.

        We don’t ship them off …..where?…because you’re nervous.

        • Just line them up and shoot them.

          Better – run a lottery and the winning tickets get to do the shooting.

          Send the proceeds to the victims families.

          Cheaper than keeping them and it gives the families a little cash at the same time.

  2. There’s a part of me that agrees with the law – and a part that doesn’t. I get the desire to kick out anyone who commits such egregious acts against the nation. But it does seem to create two classes of citizenship – and that’s wrong.

    Perhaps the best bet is to clearly define treason to include anyone who takes up arms with a terrorist organization or under a nation whose forces are fighting Canada or its allies. And charge each of them the moment they set foot back in the country.

  3. This does not create two classes of citizens. To become a citizen, you must swear in good faith that you “will faithfully observe the laws”. Being convicted of treason and terrorism shows that this oath was made in bad faith. This means that the requirements were never actually met. The citizenship oath is invalid for any such people, so they do not legally have citizenship.

    • And if they meant it at the time?

      • Say on September 4, 1990 I said, “I will faithfully observe the laws.” Then on September 4. 1991 I do not faithfully observe the laws. The statement I made in 1990 would have been false, under any normal interpretation of the statement. Making a false statement under oath rightfully invalidates the process.

        • You ever explained that reasoning to a divorce court?

    • It creates two classes of citizens in that those with dual citizenship can be stripped of their Canadian citizenship (even if born here) whereas someone with only a Canadian citizenship can’t have theirs stripped (as that leaves them stateless).

      As to “To become a citizen, you must swear in good faith that you “will faithfully observe the laws”. “… For some of us, you simply have to be born here (or to Canadian parents anywhere). Only those who are naturalized take an oath.

    • I have attended a great many births and not once has the newborn infant been asked to swear an oath to Canada nor anyone else

  4. If Politicians stopped dropping bombs, stopped exploiting the resources of poorer countries, and stopped murdering people in other countries, there wouldn’t be any terrorists. An eye for an eye will make the whole world go blind. Where was Harper when the Prime Minister of Israel recently murdered hundreds of Palestinian children ??

  5. The Conservative Party fascist streak seems to be escaping containment……

  6. Of course you would have lawyers argue this.

    I wonder who is paying them?

    There are people who should be stripped of this privilege – especially those who willing carry out crimes against humanity in places such as the middle east.

    In the end when a bunch of lawyers fall over board and the sharks each all of them but one – the world can always say it was a shame – the sharks missed one!

    Lawyers – as a whole and with very few exceptions – are the epitome of privilege and never to be trusted to do anything that does not benefit themselves over any and all things.

    Pretty much the same as emilyone – who has never experienced anything other than a life of luxury as an entitled Canadian. LOL.

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