LEGAL BRIEF ON BILL C-24, PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP ACT
SUMMARY OF BILL C-24 AND AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S CONCERNS WITH THE PROPOSED LAW
Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, was tabled in the House of Commons in February 2014. The Bill proposed new powers to revoke Canadian citizenship when individuals are convicted of specified crimes related to terrorism, treason, and other similar offences.
Bill C-24 bought into and promoted false and xenophobic narratives about “true” Canadians and others, which equate foreignness with terrorism. Bill C-24 would consequently have a detrimental impact on the ability of many Canadians of foreign origin or certain racial/ethnic/religious groups of Canadians to enjoy their human rights on the basis of equality.
Amnesty International’s legal brief provided a detailed analysis of Bill C-24 from the perspective of Canada’s international human rights obligations. Key concerns highlighted include:
- The approach to revocation of citizenship in Bill C-24 runs counter to Canada’s duty of non-discrimination, as it feeds into stereotypes that increase the risk of discrimination;
- Allowing revocation of citizenship on the basis of “unworthiness” opens the potential of numerous categories of “unworthiness” and undermines the certainty, permanence, and stability associated with citizenship;
- Bill C-24 is inconsistent with the Canadian trend of developing an inclusive concept of citizenship, as reinforced through Canada’s judiciary;
- The weakening of citizenship increases the risk of deportation to torture, which is forbidden in international human rights law but permitted in Canadian law for non-nationals in exceptional circumstances; and
- Bill C-24 does not contain sufficient due process protections for individuals at risk of losing their citizenship, and contains other provisions which expressly deny due process rights, including the right to an appeal.
In light of these concerns, Amnesty International recommended that the sections proposing loss of citizenship on the basis of a number of specified criminal offences to be withdrawn from Bill C-24.
STATUS OF BILL
Bill C-24 was passed and received Royal Assent in June 2014.
In February 2016, the newly elected federal government tabled amendments to the Citizenship Act in Bill C-6. Among the amendments, Bill C-6 removes the grounds for revocation that relate to national security and criminality. Bill C-6 was passed on 15 June 2017, officially revoking the discriminatory provisions introduced by Bill C-24. There were concerns among advocates that Bill C-6 as originally tabled continued to withhold appeal rights for individuals who have had their citizenship revoked due to misrepresentation or fraud. However, the Senate introduced an important amendment to the Bill which restored due process and the right to a fair hearing in such cases, which was ultimately passed by the House of Commons. For more information, see the British Columbia Civil Liberties’ Association’s statement on this human rights victory.
Final text of Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act
See current text and status of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act on the Library of Parliament Website