Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Law that allows revocation of Canadian citizenship goes into effect

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander answers a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, May 25, 2015.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Federal government says it now has the power to revoke the citizenship of some Canadians convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage.

A controversial new law, first introduced last June, went into effect on Friday.

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration says there are several serious crimes that could result in dual citizens losing their Canadian status.

Story continues below advertisement

The ministry says it would revoke citizenship for anyone found guilty of terrorism, treason and high treason, and spying for a foreign government.

The rules would also apply to dual citizens who take up arms against Canada by fighting in a foreign army or joining an international terrorist organization.

The new law has met with strong public criticism, and two Ontario lawyers have already launched a court case arguing it is unconstitutional.

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander argued the new rules are meant to confront what he described as the "ever-evolving threat of jihadi terrorism."

"Our government knows that there is no higher purpose for any government than to ensure the safety and security of its citizens and we have never been afraid to call jihadi terrorism exactly what it is," Alexander said Friday at an event in Toronto.

He said the changes to the Citizenship Act will ensure that "those who wish to do us harm will not be able to exploit their Canadian citizenship to endanger Canadians or our free and democratic way of life."

Critics have expressed concerns about the way in which the new law could be applied to certain high-profile cases.

Story continues below advertisement

When they were first announced, the official opposition New Democrats extracted a promise from the government that the new rules would not be used to target Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who was then a dual citizen.

Fahmy was convicted of supporting a terrorist group in a widely-denounced trial held in Egypt and was originally sentenced to seven years.

The Al Jazeera television producer later gave up his Egyptian citizenship in an unsuccessful bid to be deported back to Canada and is currently undergoing a new trial on terrorism charges.

In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair argued that Fahmy's case highlighted the risks inherent in the new legislation.

In October, Toronto-based lawyers Paul Slansky and Rocco Galati launched a constitutional court challenge against the new law. Federal Court Judge Donald Rennie has yet to rule on the case.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.