BCCLA and Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers sue federal government to end second-class citizenship in Canada
On August 20, 2015, the BCCLA and Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) launched a constitutional challenge to Bill C-24, which creates two classes of Canadian citizens. We believe that this new citizenship legislation is anti-immigrant, anti-Canadian, anti-democratic and unconstitutional, and are seeking to have it struck down.
The lawsuit argues that the new Citizenship Act, as amended by Bill C-24, creates a two-tier citizenship regime that discriminates against dual nationals, whether born abroad or in Canada, and naturalized citizens. These Canadians have been made second-class citizens and will now have more limited citizenship rights compared to other Canadians, simply because they or their parents or ancestors were born in another country.
Under the new law, these Canadians could see their citizenship taken away if convicted of certain serious crimes in Canada or abroad (including in a country that does not have due process or rule of law). New Canadians who became citizens after the passage of Bill C-24 could also lose their citizenship if they move abroad for work, school, or family reasons. Canadians who do not have another nationality, or who are ineligible for one, can move wherever they like and will not lose their Canadian citizenship under any circumstance. For these first-class citizens, Canadian citizenship is absolute and permanent.
Our lawsuit claims that the new law violates sections 6 (mobility rights), 7 (protection of life, liberty and security of the person), 11(h) and (i) (procedural protections for individuals who have been charged with an offence), 12 (protection from cruel and unusual treatment or punishment) and 15 (equality rights) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and are not justifiable in a free and democratic society.
The case will be heard in Ontario by the Federal Court. The BCCLA and CARL are represented by Lorne Waldman of Waldman and Associates and Marlys Edwardh and Daniel Sheppardof Goldblatt Partners LLP.