I have received several questions about whether Jason Kenney is breaking international law by revoking peoples’ Canadian citizenship. Specifically, many readers want to know whether international legal norms permit a country to render someone stateless.
For those who are not familiar with the term “statelessness,” it refers to individuals who are not a citizen of any country.
The question arises because presumably some of the people who are the subject of citizenship revocation proceedings are only citizens of Canada, and not of other nations.
The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness is the treaty that governs statelessness in the case of non-refugees. It articulates international legal principles governing the interaction between states and the conferral and revocation of citizenship to people residing within the state. Canada ratified the treaty on July 17, 1978.
Article 8 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness provides that:
1. A Contracting State shall not deprive a person of its nationality if such deprivation would render him stateless.
2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article, a person may be deprived of the nationality of a Contracting State:
(a) [where a person resides abroad for a period of seven consecutive years and fails to declare an intention to retain nationality or if the person is born outside the state and does not reside within the state within 1 year of obtaining the age of majority];
(b) where the nationality has been obtained by misrepresentation or fraud.
3. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article,Read more ›
Canada has imposed visa requirements on five new countries. The countries are St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Namibia, Botswana, and Swaziland.
In its press release the government stated that the reasons for the imposition of the visa requirement on these countries were to:
- Reduce the risk that individuals engaged in organized crime or the trafficking of persons could gain entry to Canada, and to address concerns over fraudulent documents.
- Address the issue of unreliable travel documents from St. Lucia and St. Vincent because criminals from these countries can legally change their names and acquire new passports. In some instances, people who were removed from Canada as security risks later returned using different passports.
Of course, the unspoken reason behind any decision to impose a temporary resident visa requirement on the country is that the government is concerned that people will not leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay, and in some cases claim refugee status.
Data from the Canadian Council of Refugees confirms that concern over refugee claims was likely a factor in imposing visa requirements on at least two of the above-mentioned countries.
In 2011, the Immigration and Refugee Board decided, or claimants abandoned, 824 refugee claims for individuals from Saint Vincent. Indeed, this small island nation with a population of 120,000 was the 8th highest source country for refugee claims in Canada. Of the 824 individuals, 76 abandoned their claims. Only 38.5% of the remaining claims were accepted, which was below the 2011 global average.
To put the 824 individuals into perspective, in 2011 almost 0.7% of Saint Vincent’s population had a refugee claim decided in Canada.
There was also a large number of refugee claims (604) from Saint Lucia,Read more ›
Between 1977 and 2010 only 63 people had their citizenship revoked. In July, 2011, Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (“Minister Kenney“), announced that as many as 1,800 Canadians could be stripped of their citizenship because they obtained their citizenship fraudulently. The 1,800 individuals were identified following a three-year investigation by the RCMP, other police forces and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
On September 9, 2012, Minister Kenney announced that the number of people who would likely have their citizenship revoked had risen to 3,100, with an additional 11,000 people under investigation. An Access to Information Act request revealed that most of the Canadian citizens who were the subject of investigations were originally from the following countries.
By the end of 2012, the process of revoking these peoples’ citizenship has already begun, with several Canadians receiving letters stating the following:
The potential citizenship revocation of 11,000 Canadians generated considerable media and political attention, including this Twitter exchange between Jason Kenney and Jinny Sims, the New Democratic Party Immigration Critic.
While what Minister Kenney said was at the time true, one of the consequences of Bill C-24, the Strengthening of Canadian Citizenship Act, is that there are no longer the same procedural safeguards for those who face citizenship revocation proceedings for misrepresentation.
Section 10 of the Citizenship Act – Then and Now
The authority of the Government of Canada to strip people of their citizenship is legally provided for by s. 10 of the Citizenship Act, which previously stated that:
Order in cases of fraud
10.Read more ›
Glen Forrester, a Vancouver civil and commercial litigator, recently successfully defended a potential immigrant who a Canadian business was suing. The Canadian business was trying to compel the individual to pay $200,000 pursuant to an asset purchase agreement. The case is noteworthy from an immigration law standpoint as the individual entered into the asset purchase agreement because she thought it would assist her with her immigration application, when in fact it did not.
The case did not involve malicious intent on the part of the Canadian business. The business’s principal genuinely believed that the asset purchase agreement met British Columbia’s requirements for immigrating under the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program, admitted that he ran advertisements stating the same, and acknowledged that he told the potential immigrant that the asset purchase agreement met the BC PNP requirements.
Notwithstanding that there was no malicious intent on the part of the seller, Glen Forrester successfully argued that the asset purchase agreement was invalid because of innocent misrepresentation. Innocent misrepresentation generally occurs in situations where the representor has reasonable grounds for believing that the representation is true. There is no need to show that an individual’s reliance on the misrepresentation was reasonable. The remedy for innocent misrepresentation is recission (or cancelling) the contract.
Our firm, Larlee Rosenberg, was peripherally involved in the case. Peter Larlee provided expert testimony. The judgement contains the following excerpts from Peter’s expert report:
It is my conclusion that the Purchase Agreement could not form the basis of a successful application pursuant to the BC PNP, under the Region Business Category or otherwise.
The Purchase Agreement does not meet these criteria and therefore could not form the basis of an application pursuant to the BC PNP.Read more ›