Amendments to citizenship revocation procedures urged

On Wednesday, May 10, the Federal Court of Canada struck down provisions ‎of the Citizenship Act that deal with revocation of citizenship on grounds of fraud and false representation.

The litigants in Hassouna v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration argued the government’s current revocation process is fundamentally flawed and unfair. The Federal Court agreed. ‎It ruled that the administrative revocation process violates the Bill of Rights by not providing the right to an oral hearing in accordance with principles of fundamental justice.

‎Earlier this month, the Senate amended the government’s signature citizenship legislation, Bill C-6, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act. Senators Elaine McCoy, Art Eggleton, Mobina Jaffer and André Pratte, as well as the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, were instrumental in the creation and passing of this amendment. The amended bill is now before the House of Commons. Members of Parliament may accept Senate amendments, reject or modify them.

Ruling says citizenship is a right, once acquired
In her ruling, Madam Justice Jocelyne Gagné said, “once acquired, citizenship is a right.” It is not a privilege that any government can give and take lightly.

‎Justice Gagné found that four areas of due process were missing in current revocation procedures: an oral hearing, disclosure of the case against the individual, an independent decision maker, and the opportunity for humanitarian and compassionate review.
All four of these requirements are found in the Senate amendment to Bill C-6.

According to independent Ontario Senator Ratna Omidvar, “The decision confirms the Senate was correct, and the government’s process does not comply with the Bill of Rights. I encourage members of Parliament to accept the Senate amendment and restore due process to all citizens facing allegations that could result in the loss of their citizenship. Such a decision would restore due process, and like other changes in Bill C-6, would close the narrative that some Canadians have fewer rights that others. This is about due process and the equality of all citizens before the law.”


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