In 2016, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-6 in Parliament. The central goal of the bill was to roll back changes to the Citizenship Act introduced by the previous government’s Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which was called discriminatory by opposition lawmakers, immigration activists, and more than one prominent immigration lawyer.
Progress on passing Bill C-6 has been slow, especially in the Senate, where several amendments have been proposed. However, a recent Federal Court decision has helped the Liberal cause. On May 10, Justice Jocelyne Gagné found that several sections of Bill C-24 violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if not the Bill of Rights.
“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,” Gagné said in her decision.
Three sections of the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act could be affected by the decision, including one allowing Ministers of Citizenship and Immigration to unilaterally decide to revoke a person’s citizenship if they felt the person lied or concealed information, and one which allowed the government to revoke citizenship without a hearing.
“The applicants should be afforded an oral hearing before a Court, or before an independent administrative tribunal, where there is a serious issue of credibility; a fair opportunity to state the case and know the case to be met; the right to an impartial and independent decision-maker, and an opportunity to have their special circumstances considered when such circumstances exist,” said Gagné.
The Court decision has eased confusion over the direction Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government intended to take.
“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,” immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman told the CBC. “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.”
Immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk told National that the federal government’s direction on this issue remains “a mystery,” and that he isn’t sure “whether they were trying to beat the court to the punch, or whether it happened exactly how they wanted it to happen.”
Whether or not the Liberal Government intended to push for the repeal of Bill C-24, Justice Gangé’s decision is welcome news for new Canadians and the people who represent them. If you have questions or concerns about the Federal Court decision, feel free to contact an immigration lawyer at Nanda & Associate Lawyers today.