Canada SC | Person born in Canada to a couple who were undercover Russian spies held to be a Canadian citizen 

Supreme Court of Canada: A Full Bench of Wagner, CJ. and Moldaver, Grason, Cote, Brown, Rowe and Martin, JJ. is pertaining to the validity of Registrar’s decision in a case of withdrawal of citizenship.

The petition has been filed by Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration against the orders of Court of Appeal that dismissed the order of Registrar where the reasonableness of his decision and correctness of the interpretation of Section 3 (2) (a) of the Canadian Citizenship Act, R.S.C. 1985, C-29 by him is in question.

The facts of the case are that Alexander Valivov is born to a Russian Couple who were the spies planted in Canada by the Russian Intelligence Agency, a fact unknown to Alexander. The couple was caught for spying in 2010. Alexander who holds Canadian citizenship, got his certificate of citizenship cancelled by the Registrar in 2014 citing Section 3 (2) (a) of the Citizenship Act, which states that if either parent of a Canadian born is an employee of another country in Canada the child don’t get citizenship by birth. Alexander moved to a federal court where his appeal got dismissed. Further, he took the issue to the Court of Appeal which allowed Alexander’s appeal. Hence, the minister of Citizenship and Immigration has challenged the Court of Appeal’s decision in the Supreme Court.

The Court considered the case Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC OnLine Can SC 9 and clarified the law applicable to judicial review of administrative decisions. There are two aspects that need clarification. First is the analysis of determining the standard of review. Second is the guidance of the Court on a reasonableness standard. The court decided that the standard applicable in the registrar’s decision is reasonableness. In reasonableness review Court intervenes to safeguard legality, rationality and fairness of the administrative process, failure in which may lead it to be set aside.

The Court observed that Registrar did not take note that Section 3 (2)(a) applies only to the children of those individuals whose parents had been granted the diplomatic privileges by the Canadian Government. The Court held the decision rendered by Registrar to be unreasonable, as the interpretation of Section 3 (2) (a) of Citizenship Act done by him was improper and hence the Court found uplifted the decision given by the Court of Appeal and Canadian citizenship got restored to Alexander Vavilov. [Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v. Vavilov, 2019 SCC 65, decided on 19-12-2019]

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