Canadian Federal Court Voids Citizenship Revocations

22 Mar 2023

The Ruling Emphasizes That Citizenship Is In Fact A Right and Not A Privilege

In February, 2014, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government amended the Citizenship Act to fast-track the revocation process in what it called “non-complex” cases. This is what is known as Bill -C24. Part of the fast track revocation allowed them to eliminate the right to a hearing for individuals when their citizenship had been obtained by fraud.

Back in May of this year, Justice Jocelyne Gagné ruled that the existing law violates Section 2(e) of the Canadian Bill of Rights, which says no law should deprive someone of the right to a fair hearing. Justice Gagné said the eight applicants who either had their citizenship revoked or were issued a notice of revocation must be given a fair oral hearing in front of an independent decision-maker and an opportunity to have any special circumstances considered before a decision is made.

“They deprive the applicants of the right to a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,” – Justice Jocelyne Gagné

This month, Justice Russel Zinn voided the citizenship revocation of 312 individuals who had turned to the court after they were targeted in a sweep against people who had obtained their Canadian nationality through fraud. Another 14 similar court requests, which had not been filed in a timely manner, can apply for a deadline extension as well.

Trudeau’s Liberal government has since successfully amended the Act. By this time next year, the Federal Court would be the decision-maker in citizenship revocation cases.