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'A Canadian Is a Canadian': Liberal Leader Says Terrorists Should Keep Their Citizenship

The ruling Conservative party leaked audio of the Liberal leader's well-known position days after it emerged that the government has revoked the citizenship of a convicted terrorist.
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Days after the Conservative government revoked the citizenship of the mastermind of a notorious terrorist plot in Canada, the party has released an audio of rival Liberal leader explaining why he opposes stripping citizenship from terrorists.

Justin Trudeau told a town hall meeting in Winnipeg in July that a "Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian."

"And I'll give you the quote so that you guys can jot it down and put it in an attack ad somewhere, that the Liberal Party believes that terrorists should get to keep their Canadian citizenship," said Trudeau, in an audio recording first reported by CTV News. "Because I do. And I'm willing to take on anyone who disagrees with that. Because the question is, as soon as you make citizenship for some Canadians conditional on good behavior, you devalue citizenship for everyone."


Trudeau said he's "envious" of new Canadians because they "got to choose Canada".

"The idea that we would say that we'll give you your citizenship, but for the rest of your life you have to be on your best behavior … that principle that says the government can decide what you did means you no longer get to be Canadian is a very, very scary one," he said.

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Trudeau's position is not new: both the Liberals and the New Democratic Party opposed Bill C-24, which became law in May. Also known as the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, it allows the government to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals who have been convicted of offences related to spying, treason or terrorism.

But on the eve of the country's first debate on foreign policy issues, Monday night, the Conservatives sought to create more wedge out of the Canada's approach to extremism.

Defense Minister Jason Kenney slammed Trudeau's position and on Twitter referenced a poll that shows most Canadians support his party's position.

On Saturday, Kenney confirmed, as first reported in the National Post, that Zakaria Amara, a Jordanian-Canada and ring-leader of the so-called Toronto 18, has lost his Canadian citizenship.

He is the first to do so under Bill C-24.

"He expressed violent disloyalty for this country — hatred for Canada — and in so doing, through that conviction, he effectively renounced his own Canadian citizenship," Kenney said at a stop in Regina.

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Amara is serving a life sentence for plotting, alongside 17 others, to detonate bombs in rental trucks in Toronto, attack RCMP headquarters, nuclear power plants, and Parliament, in a scheme that was foiled by police in 2006. Together, they came to be known as the Toronto 18. The group also considered attacking the Sears Tower in Toronto, or the UN headquarters in New York.

Amara is eligible for parole in 2016. The CBC reported that the federal government has sent letters to at least five people linked to extremist activity, informing them that their citizenship will be revoked.