The Federal Court ruled Wednesday that the process to revoke citizenship under the Citizenship Act, as amended by the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act of the last government in 2012, violates the Canadian Bill of Rights, and that naturalized citizens must have a fair hearing before an independent decision-maker before their citizenship can be stripped.
Justice Jocelyne Gagné found that notices of intent to revoke the citizenship of eight representative applicants violated s. 2(e) of the Bill of Rights. That section states that “no law of Canada shall be construed or applied so as to [ . . . ] deprive a person of the right to a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice for the determination of his rights and obligations . . .”
The Bill of Rights was enacted as an ordinary statute of the Parliament of Canada applying only to federal laws. With the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, the Bill of Rights lost most of its importance, as the majority of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by it are now embedded in the Charter, Justice Gagné noted. However, she wrote, two provisions of the Bill of Rights are not duplicated by the Charter, one of which is the guarantee of a fair hearing for the determination of a person’s rights and obligations, as found in s. 2(e).