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Monarchy oath lawsuit gets new hearing


Attorney General appeals, seeks to overturn judgment allowing suit to proceed


Toronto, September 12, 2007 - Buoyed by last May's Ontario Superior Court judge’s favourable decision, members of a class action suit will be back in a Toronto court room next week to press ahead with their legal battle to remove the current mandatory swearing of allegiance to the British monarch from the Canadian citizenship oath.

Such a requirement, they argue, violates their freedom of conscience, speech, and association, as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution Act 1982. They also believe that swearing an oath of fealty to a monarch and all of his or her descendents contradicts the Charter's commitment to equality.

“I have strongly-held beliefs about our free and democratic society today, as do other class members,” says Toronto civil rights lawyer Charles Roach, who filed the class action suit.

“An oath is a solemn declaration and the government should not force people to swear to things they don’t believe in to gain citizenship. This oath is a coercion of my conscience.”

In his decision, Judge Edward Belobaba dismissed a motion by Canada’s Attorney General to deny an application to register the class action suit. The Attorney General promptly appealed the judge’s decision and it's that appeal that will be heard before three Ontario Court of Appeal judges at Toronto's Osgoode Hall, Wednesday, September 19, at 10:00 a.m.

Finding no good reason to deny the applicants their right to proceed, Belobaba, who referred to the monarch as an “offshore queen” during the Osgoode Hall hearing, said, “The constitutional challenge to the requirement that new Canadian citizens swear or affirm an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and not simply to the country, its people and its laws, is neither frivolous nor vexatious. There is a plausible argument that this requirement violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Saying there is nothing in the Constitution Act that requires a Canadian citizenship oath, or that a new citizen must swear allegiance to the Queen, Belobaba noted that in Australia, which is a constitutional monarchy like Canada, new citizens are simply required to take a “pledge of commitment” to Australia, its people, and its laws. “This ‘pledge of commitment’ makes no reference to Her Majesty the Queen,” Belobaba said.

Along with Roach, who has lived in Canada for more than half a century and has adult children who are Canadian citizens, the prospective class action already includes close to three dozen members. If the Court of Appeal agrees with Judge Belobaba that registration should proceed, the action could eventually attract hundreds of additional class members, or more.

Current members of the class action plan to hold a rally on Sunday, September 16, 2:00 p.m., at Speakers’ Corner, City Hall Square in Toronto, on Queen Street West next to Osgoode Hall.

In support, Citizens for a Canadian Republic, which fully endorses Mr. Roach's initiative, will have representatives from its national executive and Toronto chapter in attendance at the Osgoode Hall hearing.

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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.

Judge Belobaba’s complete May 17 decision

Australia’s Citizenship Pledge (Revised in 1993 to replace the oath or affirmation of allegiance and removal of reference to the monarchy.

Common Cause, an Alliance of Commonwealth Republican Movements

Citizens for a Canadian Republic
2100 Bloor Street West, Suite 6 - 146
Toronto, Ontario M6S 5A5

For specific details or comments about the legal case, please 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

For information about Citizens for a Canadian Republic, please contact:
Tom Freda - (416)705-5660 or national.director@canadian-republic.ca
Pierre Vincent - (780)987-8663 or (780)988-0622 info@republique-canadienne.ca

Citizens for a Canadian Republic


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