On September 26, 2016, the BCCLA and Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) launched a legal challenge to protect the rights of Canadians facing revocation of their Canadian citizenship due to allegations of misrepresentation. The organizations argue that any Canadian facing the loss of their citizenship must have a full and fair opportunity to defend themselves in a hearing. However, this long-standing right to a hearing was taken away by the last government in Bill C-24.
The BCCLA and CARL argue that the revocation regime is procedurally unfair and violates principles of fundamental justice, contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The process gives Canadians who are being stripped of their citizenship no right to an oral hearing, no right to have their case decided by an independent decision-maker, and no right to disclosure of relevant materials that would allow them to know the case against them. In addition, they have no opportunity to argue why they should not be stripped of their citizenship for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.
The case follows on the heels of the organizations’ constitutional challenge to Bill C-24 last year. Bill C-24 created two tiers of citizens: those who could be stripped of their citizenship, and those who could not. It gave fewer rights to some Canadians based on where they were born, turning some Canadians into second class citizens. While legislation has been proposed to repeal these discriminatory provisions, the unfair process for revoking citizenship on the basis of misrepresentation remains in place. It is being used by the current government to initiate, on average, over 60 cases a month.
The BCCLA and CARL are represented by Dan Sheppard of Goldblatt Partners LLP and Lorne Waldman of Waldman and Associates.