VANCOUVER (February 25, 2016) – Laura Track, Staff Lawyer at the BC Civil Liberties Association, reacted today to the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act, introduced this morning as Bill C-6. The Act would repeal key elements of Bill C-24, the so-called Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act passed by the former government in 2014, which created two tiers of Canadian citizenship and made some Canadians into second class citizens.
The BC Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) launched a constitutional challenge to second-class citizenship in August, 2015.
“We applaud the government for introducing these changes to restore equal citizenship in Canada” says Track. “Bill C-24 was discriminatory and unconstitutional. It divided Canadians into different classes that received different treatment, turning millions of Canadians into second class citizens with fewer rights than other Canadians. We’re glad to see the new government delivering on its promise to repeal this undemocratic and un-Canadian law.”
Track added, “Terrorism and other grave offences against Canada should be punished in the criminal justice system, not by using exile. Citizenship stripping is a medieval practice that divides Canadians. We can, and must, treat Canadian offenders according to the same laws, regardless of where a person or their family comes from.”
Track noted: “We will be reviewing the bill closely over the coming days to ensure it addresses all of the problematic elements of Bill C-24.”
The BCCLA remains deeply concerned that the new proposed law appears to continue to give the Minister, or his delegate, the power to revoke citizenship in cases where a citizen is alleged to have misrepresented themselves. Track said: “It should never be up to a government official or politician to make a final decision whether someone’s citizenship should be taken away. If a person is accused of misrepresenting themselves to obtain their citizenship, they must have the facts necessary to know the case against them, and to defend themselves in front of a judge who can assess the facts and make an independent decision.”
Read the BCCLA and CARL’s constitutional challenge to Bill C-24 here: https://bccla.org/our_work/bccla-carl-and-ansari-v-ag-of-canada-challenging-two-tier-canadian-citizenship/