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MEDIA ADVISORY
Citizenship Act class action hearing, Tuesday, May 8

Toronto, May 7, 2007 -  The class action lawsuit seeking a judgement declaring that section 24 of the Citizenship Act violates sections 2 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will be heard in the Superior Court of Justice, Osgoode Hall, Courtroom 5, 130 Queen St., Toronto, on Tuesday 8th May 2007 at 10:00 a.m. Significantly, it's the first lawsuit that directly invokes the freedom of conscience provisions of the Charter.

Filed by Charles Roach, a member of Citizens for a Canadian Republic, an advocacy group promoting full Canadianization of the head of state, the class action questions the legality of requiring new citizens to take an oath containing the words "… be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her heirs and Successors."

Known as Roach v. Her Majesty the Queen, the case is similar to an action brought unsuccessfully in 1991 on different grounds. The office of the Attorney General representing the Crown is moving to have the class action struck down on the basis that it is frivolous, vexatious or otherwise an abuse of the process of the court.

Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. The lawsuit contends that the oath in its current form forces members of the class action into expressing fealty to the monarchy, an institution that they have strong moral convictions against supporting. The oath, therefore, is a state-compelled violation of freedom of conscience and expression, forcing the Applicants into a choice between remaining faithful to their spiritual and political beliefs or hypocritically taking the oath to gain the opportunity to enjoy Canadian citizenship.

Additionally, Section 15 of the Charter guarantees that every individual is equal before and under the law. Section 24 of the Citizenship Act, inasmuch as it requires permanent residents who are naturalized Canadian citizens to have taken the said oath in order to attain full political rights, violates the right to equality since it does not require persons born in Canada to take the aforesaid oath in order to attain the same political rights.

"I have strongly-held beliefs, as do other class members, that this oath is a coercion of my conscience," says Roach. "An oath is a solemn declaration; the government should not force people to swear to things they don’t believe in to gain citizenship," says Mr. Roach, who has lived in Canada since 1955.

"The said oath is a pledge to the person who is head of state and not just to the state itself. The symbol of the head of state is so integrally identified with the Windsor family and privilege by birth that it offends my lifelong commitment to values of equal dignity and equal liberty."

Notably, citing similar concerns, Australia revised its Citizenship Act in 1994 to delete reference to the Queen and her successors, instead, requiring new citizens to solely swear loyalty to Australia and its people. In another precedent, in 2005, Canada ceased requiring the swearing of an oath to the Queen as a prerequisite for civil service employment.

Link Australian Citizenship Act – Amendment: Pledge of Commitment

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CONTACT

Charles Roach
Roach Schwartz & Associates
688 St. Clair Avenue, West, 2nd Floor
Toronto, ON - M6C 1B1
Tel: (416) 657-1465
Fax: (416) 657-1511

 

ABOUT CITIZENS FOR A CANADIAN REPUBLIC
Citizens for a Canadian Republic is a registered non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that's been advocating the Canadianization of the head of state since 2002. More information is available at CCR’s website. 
CONTACT
Media Inquiries
Citizens for a Canadian Republic
2100 Bloor Street West, Suite 6 - 146
Toronto, Ontario M6S 5A5
Phone(416)705-5660, Fax(416)532-3792
info@canadian-republic.ca
http://www.canadian-republic.ca
OTHER CONTACTS
Tom Freda - (416)705-5660 or national.director@canadian-republic.ca

Citizens for a Canadian Republic