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Politics Government challenged on right to revoke citizenship

Lawyer Rocco Galati is scrummed by media as he steps out of the Brampton Courts in Brampton, Ont. in this Monday, June 12, 2006 file photo. Mr. Galati is challenging the Conservative government’s right to revoke the citizenship of Canadians with dual nationality, including those born in this country, if they commit serious crimes such as terrorism here or abroad.

Aaron Harris/CP

A Toronto lawyer is challenging the Conservative government's right to revoke the citizenship of Canadians with dual nationality, including those born in this country, if they commit serious crimes such as terrorism here or abroad.

Rocco Galati filed the challenge in Federal Court on Wednesday, citing two cases from the turn of the 20th century in which the government of British Columbia tried to deny certain rights of citizenship to Chinese and Japanese immigrants and their Canadian-born children. He says that nothing in Canada's 1867 or 1982 Constitution allows Parliament to revoke the citizenship of the native-born.

"They don't have the constitutional authority to touch this," he said in an interview. "Certain things can't be touched."

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The government did not respond directly to the issues raised by the challenge on Wednesday.

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which became law this month, allows the government to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals convicted of crimes such as terrorism, treason and espionage, or who take up arms against Canada.

"We're talking about revocation of dual nationals, wherever they're born, for very rare and very serious crimes," Mr. Alexander has said. (Citizenship can also be taken away if people lie, or commit fraud, on their application.)

Britain passed a law last month that goes even further, allowing the government to take away citizenship from those with only one nationality, leaving individuals stateless. The country has stripped 42 people of their citizenship since 2006, under a previous version of the law.

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