2015 FC 91
January 22nd, 2015
The Honourable Mr. Justice Rennie
Federal Court (Trial Division)
- The Governor General’s power to grant royal assent is not subject to judicial review.
- It is within parliament’s legislative capacity to create a law that revokes citizenship.
The applicant sought to set aside Governor General David Johnston’s decision to grant royal assent to Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act. The bill would allow the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to revoke the citizenship of natural-born and naturalized Canadian citizens who have been convicted of crimes relating to national security or terrorism.
The two issues were:
- Is the Governor General’s power to grant royal assent subject to judicial review?
- Is it within parliament’s legislative capacity to create a law that revokes citizenship?
In response to the first issue, the court opined that the separation of powers within Canada’s constitutional order prevents the judiciary from intervening in the legislative process. The Governor General’s power to grant royal assent to legislation is established in section 55 of the Constitution Act, 1867. Section 55 is included in Part IV of the Act, which is entitled: Legislative Power. This confirms the conclusion that the Governor General’s power to grant assent is legislative in nature and thus not subject to judicial review.
In response to the second issue, the court opined that the right to citizenship is not inalienable as Canada has a long history of creating legislation that provides for the alienation of citizenship. Furthermore, the court confirmed that parliament’s capacity to legislate on all matters relating to citizenship stems from both the preamble of section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which permits parliament to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada, and section 91(25) of the Constitution Act, 1867, which gives parliament authority over matters related to naturalization and aliens. Thus, it is within parliament’s legislative capacity to create a law that revokes citizenship.
Decision: The court dismissed the application with costs.