An audio recording of Justin Trudeau explaining why convicted terrorists should not be stripped of their Canadian citizenship has been leaked by Conservatives ahead of a key leaders' debate on foreign policy.
CTV News reported Sunday that the three-minute clip was recorded at a Winnipeg town hall in July.
In the recording, a man is heard asking the Liberal leader about Bill C-24, a controversial piece of legislation the man deems "absolutely disgusting."
C-24 allows the federal government to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or espionage inside or outside of Canada. It also applies to dual citizens who take up arms against Canada by joining an international terrorist organization or fighting with a foreign army.
Civil rights groups have argued the law is unconstitutional and creates two-tier citizenship.
Trudeau said in the recording that the bill "exemplifies" the Conservative approach to politics and that Liberals staunchly oppose it.
"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," he said. "Because I do. And I'm willing to take on anyone who disagrees with that."
Trudeau also scored applause after saying that "as soon as you make citizenship for some Canadians conditional on good behaviour, you devalue citizenship for everyone."
The Liberal leader added that he found it "very, very scary" that a government could strip new Canadians of their citizenship rights because of unlawful actions.
"And by the way, there are penalties for anyone convicted of… terrorism or an act of war or an offence against Canada," he said. "They end up locked up in jail for the rest of their lives."
A "plane ticket to Syria" is not the same kind of punishment, Trudeau said.
Toronto Sun columnist Tarek Fatah shared the recording online, calling it "explosive."
Defence Minister Jason Kenney also took to Twitter with a graphic slamming Trudeau's position.
At a campaign event in Mississauga last month, Trudeau told Canada's largest Islamic conference that a Liberal government would repeal C-24. Thomas Mulcair's New Democrats have also pledged to repeal the law.
Feds revoke citizenship of Toronto 18 plotter
Last Friday, in an historic first, the federal government revoked the citizenship of Toronto 18 mastermind Zakaria Amara.
Amara was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 for planning to bomb downtown Toronto four years earlier. Amara aimed to flee to Pakistan and Afghanistan after the attack, which was ultimately thwarted by police.
Mulcair questioned Sunday why such a step would be taken in the middle of an election campaign.
"Give me a break," the NDP leader said at a rally in Toronto. "This is Mr. Harper strutting his stuff for his right-wing base."
Mulcair, Harper and Trudeau will square off at a debate Monday night, hosted by The Munk Debates, focused entirely on foreign policy.
With files from The Canadian Press
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