When new citizens swear an oath to the Queen, they are not pledging allegiance to her personally, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday, rejecting a challenge by three permanent residents who have refused citizenship over an oath they say violates their political or religious beliefs. The group launched a constitutional challenge last year, arguing that forcing candidates for Canadian citizenship to swear allegiance to the Queen violates the protections for free speech and freedom of religion in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In a decision issued on Wednesday, Ontario’s top court dismissed their objections to the oath, ruling the group was wrong to take the oath literally. The decision, citing previous rulings, says that would-be citizens are not actually swearing allegiance to the Queen herself as “the reference to the Queen is symbolic of our form of government and the unwritten constitutional principle of democracy.”
Peter Rosenthal, the lead Toronto lawyer representing the group, said his clients had not made a final decision, given the uphill climb involved in convincing the Supreme Court to hear a case.
One of the would-be citizens involved in the case is 80-year-old Michael McAteer, former Toronto Star journalist. He grew up in Ireland but has lived in Canada since 1964. He took issue with assertions in the appeal decision that those with republican or anti-monarchist views are free to express them even after taking the oath and that they could even “disavow” elements of the oath without any repercussions. Mr. McAteer said he would never swear the oath to the Queen just to obtain his citizenship.
The other applicants oppose the oath on similar grounds. According to court submissions, Simone Topey, a Rastafarian, believes the Queen is the “Queen of Babylon” and that swearing the oath would “deeply violate her religious belief.” The third, Dror Bar-Natan, an immigrant from Israel, calls the oath “repulsive” because he says the Queen is a symbol of inequality.
Lawyers for the federal government argued that those who refuse to support Canada’s “foundational constitutional structure” are not entitled to the benefits of citizenship, including the right to vote. Before the Court of Appeal in April, government lawyer Kristina Dragaitis argued that the Queen symbolizes the rule of law and the right to free speech. In a 22-page ruling last September, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Morgan laid out the history of Canada’s evolution as a constitutional monarchy and turned down the request to void the oath.
However, the Court of Appeal on Wednesday also agreed with a cross-appeal filed by the federal government and overturned Justice Morgan’s finding that the oath violates the Charter’s free expression rights. Mr. Roach, a long-time friend of Mr. Rosenthal, refused to swear the oath and become a citizen because he believed the Queen was a symbol of imperialism and because of injustices done to his ancestors in the name of the British monarchy.
Source: The Globe And Mail
A husband and wife owning two chain restaurants in Labrador have launched a constitutional challenge against Ottawa’s move to restrict them from hiring foreign workers and place their business on an online blacklist.
In 2013, Jeff and Miriam Staples, who own Jungle Jim’s Restaurant and Greco Pizza franchises, had made five labour market opinion (LMO) applications to hire about 20 migrant workers. But three of their applications which had been approved in October last year were suspended by Employment Minister Jason Kenney earlier this year.
The couple’s challenge is the first legal action against the federal government’s revamped temporary foreign workers program ever since the new enforcement measures were introduced to address the public outrage over alleged abuse of the program by Canadian employers.
In case the challenge is successful, the federal court might strike down the new measures, which also include a ban on hiring foreign restaurant workers in areas where unemployment is above 6% and force the government to reconfigure the controversial migrant workers’ program.
Though the couple were informed about the suspension, they were unaware that Kenney had also published their company names on his website. “Canadian employers need certainty to enable them to order their affairs. That their LMOs may be suspended based on what may be an ever-changing version of public policy considerations is unfair, and leads to what the Supreme Court has termed a ‘standard-less sweep,’” they said in their claim. Allegations in the claim have not been proven in court.
“In the result, employers do not know the standards that they are required to meet in order to avoid their LMOs being suspended or revoked until after the minister publishes the information. The presumption in law is that new legislation does not apply retro-actively, unless parliament explicitly provides for this retroactive application.”
Staples’ offices were searched in the spring; documents were seized and Jeff Staples was handcuffed and later detained in a police station for many hours. No criminal or immigration charges, however, have been filed against them.
“In the Minister’s letter of 4 April 2014, the applicants were told only that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that they had provided false, misleading or inaccurate information in their LMO applications,” said the Staples in the court filing.
“They were provided no further information as to the allegations and were advised that an investigation would take place over the next 180 days.”
The couple argue that the minister must provide what is meant by “public policy considerations” in justifying the suspension of an LMO and “a civil investigation cannot be used as a foundation to discover evidence to be used in a penal proceeding.”
The Staples said both Employment and Social Development Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada have violated the couple’s right to “due process.” Both ministries have refused to comment because “the issue is currently before the courts.”
About 25,000 Canadian employers hire temporary foreign workers. In more than 1,100 work places, migrant workers make up almost half of all employees.
Source: The Star