Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Change urged in terrorism rule

It doesn't consider false charge: lawyer

  • Print

If a demonstrator in Kyiv was charged with terrorism for taking part in protests and then moved to Canada and became a citizen, failing to divulge that false accusation upfront could see that person stripped of citizenship.

That's one of the problems with the proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act, said globe-trotting human rights lawyer David Matas. The Winnipeg-based immigration-law expert and Nazi-hunting litigator sees good news and bad news in the changes.

The proposed law is better than the current one because it removes the federal cabinet from the process, it allows for an appeal and consolidates the legal proceeding to revoke citizenship and remove international criminal fugitives from Canada, Matas said Thursday. He was speaking at Welcome Place. The refugee resettlement agency in Winnipeg has helped thousands of newcomers who've fled tyranny and terrorism.

"The old law, requiring cabinet approval, meant the government legal arm could win in court and then the political arm, cabinet, could reverse the result," he said.

Matas said that's what happened with Wasyl Odynsky and Vladimir Katriuk, who the courts said entered Canada by hiding their Nazi past. The cabinet, without reasons, said they could stay.

"I went to court for the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada to argue that cabinet could not do that, that cabinet had to revoke citizenship," Matas said Thursday. The courts sided with cabinet, letting those who the court found lied about their Nazi past on entry remain in Canada, Matas said.

"It is a relief to see the proposed law takes away from cabinet this power which has been so badly used."

The strategy of Nazis in Canada was "litigation to death," Matas said. Even those who lost their cases in court at every stage had to go through so many steps the process was never completed before they died, he said.

The proposed changes combat the endless-litigation strategy, Matas said.

On the downside, the changes make citizenship too easy to lose in cases that have nothing to do with international crimes, he said.

Currently, citizenship can be revoked on only one ground -- false representation or fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances. The proposed amendment expands the grounds for revocation. They include convictions for treason or terrorism. Terrorism is a charge repressive regimes use against opponents who resort to violence to try dislodging them, Matas said.

In the case of a rebellious Ukrainian or Russian who emigrates to Canada and becomes a citizen, their citizenship can be revoked for a foreign conviction of terrorism even if they're convicted in absentia and regardless whether the conviction happened before or after the accused became a Canadian citizen, Matas said.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes tyranny and oppression can lead to rebellion, he said.

"When tyrants and oppressors convict their rebellious opponents of terrorism and the opponents are Canadian citizens, Canada should not legally be able to revoke the citizenship of those citizens merely because the oppressors and tyrants label that rebellion terrorism."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2014 A18

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Stephen Harper announces increased support for Canadian child protection agencies

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY
  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google