On September 26th, 2016, the BCCLA and Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) challenged the current government to protect the rights of Canadians who are facing revocation of their Canadian citizenship based on allegations of misrepresentation.

The argument

The argument made was that any Canadian in this situation should have a full and fair opportunity to defend themselves in a hearing. With Bill C-24, the previous government took this right to a hearing away, since the right to revoke membership is no longer done by the Government in Council, and is done by the Minister himself. This means the subject no longer has the right to have the matter referred to Court for adjudication and decision-makers will make citizenship revocation decisions – taking away the subject’s right to argue their case.

While Bill C-24 did repeal the discriminatory aspects of its original legislation, it has failed to continue using this unfair process of revoking citizenship and leaving the subject without a right to trial. The aspect of misrepresentation has remained in the legislation and is continually being used by the government in an estimated 60+ cases per month.

Infringed rights

The BCCLA and CARL have stated that taking away an opportunity to have a hearing violates the underlying principles of justice that make up the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and removes any chance for them to influence an independent decision-maker. It also takes away their right to disclosure of relevant materials and to have any idea of what kind of case is being built against them.

This process continues to perpetuate aspects of the two-tiered system that was created by the previous Conservative government, which treats many Canadians as second-class citizens, as they have fewer rights, fewer opportunities and a lack of due process.