PRESS RELEASE: CARL Testifies Before Commons Committee on Bill C-425
In an appearance before the Citizenship and Immigration Committee of the House of Commons today, Lorne Waldman, president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) offered clear, trenchant criticisms of Bill C-425, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act (Honouring the Canadian Armed Forces).
Introduced as a private member’s bill, Bill C-425 aims to strip Canadian citizenship of dual nationals who engage in acts of war against Canada. Professors Catherine Dauvergne and Audrey Macklin, both experts in citizenship law, also appeared in their personal capacities. The witnesses focused on three significant failings of Bill C-425:
Bill C-425 imposes arbitrary punishment without due process.
Through the fiction of “deemed renunciation” Bill C-425 aims to deprive Canadians of crucial legal rights without adequate procedural safeguards. The punishment imposed by Bill C-425 would apply only to dual nationals, thus drawing an arbitrary distinction that serves no clear public purpose. Bill C-425 will introduce immense uncertainty into Canadian law, with serious consequences for those affected. Mr. Waldman stated:
“There are huge problems with due process and fairness in this legislation. Canada cannot risk depriving someone of citizenship and basic Charter rights without also ensuring they have their due process right to be heard.”
Bill C-425 serves no clear public purpose, and is inconsistent with basic notions of justice.
Canadian law already has established mechanisms by which to punish individuals who commit unlawful acts. Bill C-425 proposes to revive banishment as a punishment for certain criminal acts and to inflict it on a discriminatory basis against dual nationals. The proposed bill designates a government minister as judge, jury, and executioner. Professor Macklin explained:
“It is the task of the judiciary to issue judgment for unlawful acts. Bill C-425 will give elected officials the authority to mete out criminal punishment, but it is not their job to make these judgments. Bill C-425 is inconsistent with our system of government, the separation of powers, and basic notions of justice.”
Bill C-425 fosters Canadian and global insecurity.
The capacity to detect and monitor activity that threatens Canada’s security is greater within Canada than in many places in the world. Canada has strong laws and a well-resourced system, and should not act in ways that diminish its ability to prosecute dangerous acts. Stripping criminal wrongdoers of Canadian citizenship will make it harder for Canada to prosecute these individuals to the full extent of the law. Professor Dauvergne explained:
“Sending people who commit heinous crimes to dark corners of the world will only make it harder for Canada to combat global terrorism and acts of war. Our commitment to the international community prevents us from simply deporting those we fear.”
Bill C-425 is bad policy. It will impose arbitrary and disproportionate punishment without due process, violate established constitutional precepts and Charter rights, and foster Canadian and global insecurity.
For more information on Bill C-425, contact: