Rocco Galati launches lawsuit over Citizenship Act changes

Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati has launched a legal challenge against the Governor General and two federal ministers over key changes to the Citizenship Act, in documents filed in Federal Court this morning.

Toronto lawyer's court documents say Governor General had no 'constitutional authority' to pass Bill C-24

Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati has launched a legal challenge against the government over some of its changes to the Citizenship Act. (Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press)

Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati is suing Gov. Gen. David Johnston, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and Justice Minister Peter MacKay over changes to Canada's Citizenship Act.

In documents filed Wednesday morning in Federal Court, Galati asks the court to invalidate key provisions included in a new law that gives the government the power to revoke the citizenship of Canadian-born citizens convicted of "terrorism, high treason, or spying offences" or "who take up arms against Canada" if they hold dual citizenship.

The provisions passed into law last Thursday when Bill C-24, the government's Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, received royal assent.

​Galati has already successfully challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s appointment of Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In the court documents filed Wednesday, Galati argues it was beyond the Governor General's "constitutional authority" to pass Bill C-24.

The bill itself, Galati argues, goes well beyond Parliament's own reach.

The Toronto lawyer had asked parliamentarians and the Governor General to refer key provisions of Bill C-24 to the Supreme Court for a legal opinion.

In a phone interview with CBC News on Wednesday, Galati said he received a reply from the Governor General's office on June 16 simply acknowledging the content of his original letter.

Nevertheless, Bill C-24 passed into law three days later.

"It is unconstitutional," Galati said.

Marie-Êve Létourneau, a spokeswoman for the Governor General, said they could not comment as the matter is now before the courts.

The office for MacKay, who also serves as the attorney general, referred all comment to the minister of immigration.

A spokeswoman for Alexander would not comment directly on the lawsuit, saying only that "Canadians gave us a strong mandate to protect and strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship."

Galati filed the legal challenge on behalf of a group of lawyers including Manuel Azevedo and the Constitutional Rights Centre.