Three Canadian permanent residents refuse oath to the Queen

Published:  15 Jul at 6 PM
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A legal contest over the Canadian Citizenship Act’s requirement of the swearing of a loyalty oath to Queen Elizabeth began in courts last Friday.

Three permanent residents, Simone Topey, Michael McAteer and Dror Bar-Natyon caused a nationwide furore when they refused to take the oath of loyalty to the Queen required as part of the citizenship ceremony. The three applicants to the court believe that pledging allegiance to Canada itself should be enough, and are branding the oath as unconstitutional.

According to their lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, arguing at Canada’s Superior Court of Justice, the oath violates his clients’ rights to free expression and religion, and discriminates against migrants from other countries. Those born in Canada, he states, do not have to take the oath.

Immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann, formerly an immigration officer, told the press that most of his clients were prepared to do everything to become Canadian citizens. If, he added, the ceremony required them to dance the tango wearing a moose-head, they’d be happy to oblige.

Mamann explained that, without the ceremonial oath, new citizens would not have committed themselves fully to the structure of Canada’s government and its governor general as the country’s representative of Her Majesty. Even so, he added, the country is mature enough to be the focus of the oath, noting that the Queen’s ultimate authority could be replaced by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Similar court challenges in the past have all failed, with this case a continuation of one brought by the late civil rights campaigner. Charles Roach, who died after appealing against a losing verdict. Bar Natan, a professor at Toronto University, believes all people are equal, saying that the oath is a farce and undemocratic.
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