“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
People who wish to become a Canadian citizen take this oath of allegiance.
The vow’s roots lie in the oath of allegiance taken in the United Kingdom which was implemented in 1689 by King William II and III and Queen Mary II. Prior to 1947, Canadian law continued to refer to Canadian nationals as British subjects,
In 1947, Canada enacted the Citizenship Act, and the Canadian Oath of Citizenship was established. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was the first person to take this oath.
Many amendments were suggested through the years, but surprisingly, there has been only one change, in 1977. Part of an amendment to the Citizenship Act in 1977, the words Queen of Canada were inserted after the Queen’s name and the oath was officially named the Canadian Citizenship Oath.
Lawyer Charles Roach, a permanent resident of Canada and executive board member of Citizens for a Canadian Republic (CCR) who refused to swear the Oath of Citizenship, attempted through the courts to strike down the requirement to pledge allegiance to the monarch to obtain citizenship. Roach launched a number of suits against the Crown, beginning in 1994. This attempt was unsuccessful, with the majority of the court ruling that:
“[t]he fact that the oath ‘personalizes’ one particular constitutional provision has no constitutional relevance, since that personalization is derived from the Constitution itself… Even thus personalized, that part of the Constitution relating to the Queen is amendable, and so its amendment may be freely advocated, consistently with the oath of allegiance, either by expression, by peaceful assembly or by association.”
Further appeal of this decision to the Supreme Court was denied. In 2007, Roach, along with three others: Michael McAteer, an Irish immigrant with “republican heritage”, Dror Bar-Natan, an Israeli math professor, and Jamaican-born Simone Topey, a Rastafarian who regards the Queen as the “head of Babylon” filed a class action lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, claiming that the requirement to take the Oath of Citizenship not only violated sections of the charter, but also related to freedom of conscience. He stated in the media that “requiring black people to swear allegiance to the Canadian sovereign to receive citizenship was akin to forcing Jews to swear an oath to a descendant of Adolf Hitler,”
Though the federal Crown made two attempts to have the case dismissed as frivolous and vexatious, on February 20, 2008, the Ontario Court of Appeal approved the proceeding of the case to the Ontario Superior Court. Roach’s case was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court in January 2009. Roach relaunched the case in 2012 and on June 18, the Ontario Superior Court permitted the case’s continuance. Unfortunatetly, Roach died on October 2 of that year. In September 2013, Justice Edward Morgan dismissed the case. A person who wishes to apply for Canadian citizenship is subject to the following conditions. A person
- is aged 18 years or over
- has lived in Canada for a total of 1,095 days during the four years preceding the application for citizenship
- has knowledge of Canada
- is not a subject to any criminal prohibitions
- is not a war criminal
- is able to speak English or French well enough to communicate with people
To everyone applying, good luck, and welcome to Canada!
For more information, I suggest visiting the Government of Canada’s Immigration & citizenship information site.