New provisions now allow the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to revoke Canadian citizenship. The new Act received Royal Assent in June last year and included provisions to revoke Canadian citizenship from those dual citizens who are convicted of high treason, terrorism, and/or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.
Under the new provisions, the citizenship of dual citizens can also be revoked if they serve in another country’s armed forces or are found to be a part of an organized non-state entity involved in an armed conflict with Canada.
The federal government considers the revocation of citizenship to be an important tool for the protection of the value of Canadian citizenship and the safeguarding of the integrity of the citizenship program. With these changes, the government is aiming to protect the safety and security of Canada’s citizens, and ensure that criminals and those who take up arms against Canada will not benefit from Canadian citizenship.
The new revocation process
The new revocation process requires most revocation cases to be resolved by the Citizenship and Immigration Minister or a delegate. Cases falling under this category include those involving residence fraud, high treason, identity fraud, concealing criminal charges or convictions, convictions for terrorism, treason or spying offences, depending on the sentence received.
Complicated revocation cases involving crimes against humanity and war crimes, or fraud cases involving national security, or human or international rights violations and organized crime, will be handled by the Federal Court. The Federal Court, in such cases, will have authority for determining inadmissibility and ultimately, the revocation of citizenship. A removal order can also be issued in cases of serious criminality.
The Federal Court also has authority for deciding cases involving revocation of citizenship for those serving in another country’s armed forces or for being a part of an organized non-state entity involved in an armed conflict with Canada.
Legislative changes supporting revocation
To support the new revocation provisions, certain legislative changes have also been brought into force:
- Impact of revocation: A ten-year bar or permanent ban from re-acquiring Canadian citizenship depending on the circumstances. Those whose citizenship is revoked for fraud would be barred from obtaining citizenship for ten years, an increase from the previous bar of five years. Individuals whose citizenship is being revoked under the new provisions will be permanently barred from regaining Canadian citizenship.
- Renunciation: Individuals facing revocation cannot apply for renunciation of citizenship.
- Misrepresentation: Individuals who directly or indirectly withhold or misrepresent material circumstances relating to a relevant matter which can cause an error in the administration of this Act will be barred from citizenship. An individual who has been cited for misrepresentation will be barred from becoming a Canadian citizen for a period of five years following the finding of misrepresentation.
The Federal Court of Canada has been asked to void Ottawa’s recent changes to the Citizenship Act and declare it unconstitutional to revoke the citizenship of Canadian-born and naturalized citizens.
A day after the terror-linked gun shooting in Ottawa, constitutional lawyers argued in court on Thursday that Parliament has no legislative power to remove citizenship from individuals involved in armed combat against Canada, treason, spying and terrorism – unless the citizenship was obtained by fraud.
Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, was granted Royal Assent . In addition to raising the pass mark for citizenship exam and language requirement, the law also enables the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens.
Constitutional lawyers said citizenship is fundamental to the constitutional order and the new revocation provision should have been made through a constitutional amendment with the support of seven provinces or 51 per cent of the population.
Calling Ottawa’s act “an indirect amendment to the Canadian constitutions,” Paul Slansky, who represented the constitutional rights centre, said the government only has the authority over “aliens and naturalization,” but does not have the power to strip the citizenship of Canadian-born people.
Government lawyers asked the court to dismiss the case because the revocation provision has yet to be enforced and any constitutional challenge should be dealt with when an affected individual brings a case forward.
Greg George, lawyer for the government, said the case is beyond the jurisprudence of the court and it should not “meddle” with the making of the law.
“The court has no business in getting into the legislative process of the government . . . until the ink is dry,” he said, adding that Canada’s Citizenship Act, since 1947, has always allowed the government to “denaturalize” someone engaged in combat against Canada or convicted of serious crimes, but no one ever challenged its constitutionality.
“Government passed legislation and it wasn’t challenged. It doesn’t mean it’s valid,” Slansky contended.
Justice Rennie reserved his decision.
Source: The Star