Chris Alexander says citizenship bill will withstand constitutional test

The Senate hearings on C-24 were more of a sideshow to this spirited exchange on Power and Politics.

In an interview on CBC News Networks Power & Politics on Tuesday, Alexander said the challenge “doesn’t have much of a hope.”

“There is no constitutional issue here,” he told host Evan Solomon.

Bill C-24 would give the government powers to strip Canadian citizenship from dual nationals “who were members of an armed force or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict in Canada.” Citizenship would also be revoked from dual nationals who have been “convicted of terrorism, high treason, or spying offences.”

Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati warned MPs, senators and the Governor General, in separate letters sent on Monday, not to pass Bill C-24 until the government referred a key provision of the bill to the Supreme Court for a legal opinion.

At the heart of Galatis challenge are provisions contained in the citizenship bill that would strip dual nationals of their citizenship and bar them from reacquiring it.

Galati said he would apply for a judicial review with the Federal Court if he did not receive a response from the Governor General by Monday.

Galati, who also appeared on CBC News Networks Power & Politics Tuesday, said the federal government does not have the power to remove the citizenship of persons born in Canada.

“They are acting completely outside of the Constitution in a renegade, reckless and flagrant manner. And they know it,” Galati said.

Revoking the citizenship of dual nationals is “offensive,” “unconstitutional” and simply “beyond the governments authority,” he argued.

… Alexander noted that Galati represented a relative of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr, who is now serving a sentence of eight years behind bars in Canada after pleading guilty to five war crimes.”

He also defended, a senior member, the patriarch of the Khadr family, who was a senior member of al-Qaeda,” Alexander said.

Galati once represented Khadrs older brother, Abdurahman Khadr, who was held for a time as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay.

“His objection here seems to be to the idea that committing an act of terrorism, treason, or espionage says anything about your qualifications to be a Canadian citizen. We think it does,” Alexander said.

… The Canadian Bar Association has also raised “serious concerns” with the citizenship bill.

In a 30-page submission to Parliament in April, the Bar Association said the citizenship bill raised “serious human rights concerns” and key provisions in the bill were “likely unconstitutional.”​

Alexander said the concerns came from “a small section” of the Bar Association and did not represent the views of Canadians.

Galati’s has a narrower challenge than the criticism of the substantial majority of lawyers testifying before the Commons and Senate committees that revocation for dual nationals is not Charter compliant.

Galati’s case pertains to dual nationals who were born in Canada, not those who immigrated to Canada, either as children or adults, and became naturalized.

Alexander is getting quite good at Poilievre-type slurs, rather than more positive messaging on the merits of the Bill.

Chris Alexander says citizenship bill will withstand constitutional test – Politics – CBC News.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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