Reference re Persons of Japanese Race

Reference Re Persons Of Japanese Race

Reference re Persons of Japanese Race

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Reference re Persons of Japanese Race S.C.R. 248 is a famous decision of the Supreme Court of Canada where the Court upheld a government order to deport Canadian citizens of Japanese descent.


In January 1942, paranoia among white Canadians on the west coast had reached its peak. The federal government, under the War Measures Act, issued an Order in Council to require all Japanese nationals, including those who were born in Canada, to be given the choice of being sent to Japan or being placed in internment camps. Nearly 21,000 people of Japanese descent were placed in these camps.

After the war, the Order in Council that authorized the deportation was challenged on the basis that the forced deportation of the Japanese was a crime against humanity and that a citizen could not be deported from their own country. The Prime Minister referred the matter to the Supreme Court in what was to be the first case heard in the newly constructed building housing the Court.

Opinion of the Court

In a five-to-two decision, the Court held that the law was valid. Three of the five judges found that the order was entirely valid. The other two found that the provision including both women and children as threats to national security was invalid.

In dissent, Justice Ivan Rand and Justice Roy Kellock applied the concept of the unwritten bill of rights. They found that it was beyond the power of the federal government to eject citizens from their own country without a proper......
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