Media release

Attorney General tries again to stop monarchy oath lawsuit

New Citizenship Act class action hearing, Tuesday, February 19

Toronto, February 15, 2008 -  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 Court of Appeal, Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen St.W, Toronto on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 10:30 a.m.

Charles Roach began the class-action to challenge the constitutionality of the Canadian Citizenship Oath that requires new citizens to swear allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors. Significantly, it's the first lawsuit that directly invokes the freedom of conscience provisions of the Charter.

The Government of Canada has failed in two lower courts to stop the class action lawsuit. The Attorney General applied to the court to strike out the action in May, 2007 but Justice Belobaba dismissed the motion. It was appealed to the Divisional Court in September, 2007 but, with standing room only in the courtroom,  Justice Kiteley of the Divisional Court again dismissed the application.

The Attorney General has further appealed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, and it is this procedure which is scheduled for Tuesday morning at Osgoode Hall.

"The government is taking this matter very seriously," said Roach, a republican who believes strongly that Canada should have a democratically-chosen head of state. "If we win this class-action, a centuries-old tradition would begin to unravel."

"We republicans believe that it makes a mockery of one’s conscience to swear to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and then turn around and advocate a republican form of government," he added in a recent memo that also expressed thanks to those who attended street rallies and court hearings in support. 

Notably, 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.

Citizens for a Canadian Republic supports Mr. Roach's initiative.

Link Australian Citizenship Act – Amendment: Pledge of Commitment

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