Federal Court strikes down key provisions of Citizenship Act

May 10, 2017

The Federal Court has struck down several sections of the Citizenship Act relating to how the government may revoke someone's citizenship.

In a decision today, Justice Jocelyne Gagné said the provisions in question, which don't violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, do violate Canada's Bill of Rights "in a way that can not be avoided by interpretation."

She noted that citizenship revocation is an important decision that bars applicants from re-applying for 10 years while some could even be rendered stateless.

"Given the importance of Canadian citizenship and the severe consequences that could result from its loss, the principles of fundamental justice require a discretionary review of all the circumstances of the case," wrote Gagné.

Among those circumstances, she said, is a consideration of humanitarian and compassionate grounds. 

Gagné then ruled three sections of the previous government's Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (SCCA) inoperative.

That means going forward, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will no longer have the power to decide on their own, to revoke someone's citizenship if they feel it was obtained by lying or concealing information.

It also overturns part of the law that allowed the government to revoke someone's citizenship without a hearing.

Immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman represented one of the eight people who challenged the law in court.

"We didn't understand why the current government would continue to use and support the current revocation process when all of the stakeholders were arguing it was an unfair process. But they did. So they forced us to go to court and now today the court decision is vindication of our position that this is not a fair process," Waldman told CBC News from Vancouver. 

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