On April 4, the Senate of Canada passed an amendment to Bill C-6, creating a right to a Federal Court hearing for Canadian citizens who are alleged to have misrepresented themselves in their original citizenship application. This important amendment ensures due process rights are upheld for individuals at risk of having their citizenship revoked.
CCLA welcomed the tabling of Bill C-6 in February 2016, and we similarly welcome this amendment which fixes a glaring gap in the legislation. Loss of citizenship is enormously consequential for an individual, and the processes by which it can be removed must be fair and open.
Bill C-6 broadly seeks to remove amendments to the Citizenship Act made in 2014 by BIll C-24 regarding the revocation of citizenship. Prior to Bill C-24, citizenship could only be revoked if a naturalized citizen had been proved to have committed fraud in their citizenship application, through a process that included the right to a court hearing.
Bill C-24 had placed the decision-making power for revocations on the basis of fraud in the sole authority of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. It also had expanded the grounds for revoking citizenship to convictions and fraud in certain serious national security crimes where the individual was a dual citizen, naturalized citizen, or was eligible for citizenship in another country (for example, where a parent had been born or had citizenship in a foreign country that allows citizenship for foreign born offspring).
CCLA had argued that Bill C-24’s expanded revocation grounds created two tiers of citizenship in Canada and effectively discriminated against citizens in the ‘second tier’. The protection of citizens and equality of all citizens is essential to a free and democratic society. Further, CCLA argued that punishment for serious national security crimes would be effectively achieved by convictions and sentencing in our criminal justice system.
Bill C-6 removes the second class citizenship provisions by repealing the expanded grounds for revoking individuals’ citizenship created in 2014. And now, with this amendment, it also provides for a fair and transparent judicial process prior to allowing citizenship to be revoked for misrepresentation.