Stand up for fundamental human freedoms!
Date: Sunday, September 16 @ 10:11:43 MST
Topic: Black Habits Articles
TORONTO, SEPTEMBER 12, 2007. Buoyed by an Ontario Superior Court judge’s favourable decision, members of a class-action suit are back in an Osgoode Hall court room next week to press ahead with their legal battle to remove the 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.
“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 May, Judge Edward Belobaba dismissed a motion by Canada’s Attorney General to nip in the bud an application to certify the class-action suit. Canada’s Attorney General promptly appealed the judge’s decision and the appeal will be heard before three Ontario Court of Appeal judges at Osgoode Hall, Wednesday, September 19, at 10:00 a.m.
Judge Belobaba, who referred to 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, 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, the prospective class action already includes close to three dozen similarly situated members. If the Court of Appeal agrees with Judge Belobaba that certification should proceed, the action could eventually attract hundreds of additional class members in Ontario alone.
Contacts: Charles Roach. Tel. 416-657-1465