New citizenship law faces first of two expected constitutional challenges

The federal government has no authority to strip a Canadian-born person of their citizenship, says a Toronto lawyer spearheading a constitutional challenge of new legislation.

OTTAWA — The federal government has no authority to strip a Canadian-born person of their citizenship, says a Toronto lawyer spearheading a constitutional challenge of new legislation.

Rocco Galati, fellow lawyer Manuel Azevedo and the Constitutional Rights Centre have filed a notice of application in the Federal Court of Canada arguing Parliament reached beyond its jurisdiction in passing the controversial measures.

They are asking the court to declare the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act unconstitutional, citing citizenship protections ranging from the Magna Carta to the Constitution Act, 1867.

For years, a newcomer could be stripped of Canadian citizenship if they attained it through false representations.

The new law, which received royal assent last week, expands the list of those vulnerable to revocation to people born in Canada but eligible to claim citizenship in another country — for instance, through their parents.

It also broadens the grounds for revocation to include several criminal offences including espionage, treason or terrorism.

Opposition MPs have denounced the provisions as arbitrary and nonsensical, as revocation could now result in deportation to a country the person has never set foot in.

The Canadian Bar Association said the new law revives the medieval punishment of banishment.

Galati and his associates are also seeking a court order prohibiting citizenship revocation and removals under the new provisions.

They also want the government to file copies of “any and all” memos, opinions or legal opinions concerning the constitutional authority of the government to enact the legislation.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s office did not answer questions Wednesday regarding the law’s constitutionality.

However, the minister has vigorously defended the legislation, saying the public thinks it is “absolutely legitimate” to strip dual nationals of their Canadian citizenship if they commit grave offences.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said he wasn’t surprised at the legal challenge.

“The Conservatives are at war with a court system that keeps turning back their bizarre legislation that fails to respect Canadians’ rights,” Mulcair said in an interview.

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers has said it will also fight the citizenship measures in the courts.

The legislation violates equality rights under the Constitution by creating separate classes of Canadians, says Lorne Waldman, president of the association of more than 250 lawyers who represent refugees.

The association also argues the proposed revocation procedures lack fairness and that a provision forcing new citizens to swear they intend to reside in Canada — and risk losing their citizenship if they later go abroad — would mean some Canadians have mobility rights while others do not.

Just Posted

Cryptocurrency here to stay says one Red Deerian

Bitcoin is more than just a commodity with an ever changing value,… Continue reading

Lacombe County residential development and golf course proposed

Lincoln Ranch would include 100 homes and nine-hole golf course

Eight flu deaths in Central Alberta

99 admitted to hospital so far

UPDATED: Shots fired in Riverside Meadows

Red Deer RCMP search for more suspects

Exploring eating disorders in sports and fitness

Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs Feb. 1 to 7

NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships begin in Red Deer

The biggest cross-country skiing competition in Red Deer’s history is underway. Nearly… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month