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Bill C-24: Harper Says Tories May Consider Stripping Other Criminals Of Citizenship

"Well, you know, obviously we can look at options into the future."

OTTAWA — A re-elected Conservative government might look to strip dual citizens of their Canadian citizenship if they commit other heinous crimes, Stephen Harper said in a radio interview Wednesday.

Harper was on The Andrew Lawton Show to talk about Bill C-24, a new law the Tories passed last spring that strips dual citizens convicted of terrorism of their Canadian citizenship.

Lawton asked Harper if he might strip other dual citizens in the future if convicted of other crimes, giving by way of example a serial killer, a rapist or someone who did something to children.

"Well, you know, obviously we can look at options into the future," Harper responded.

"The reason we did this expansion… to terrorists and treason offences really is consistent with the way the law has always worked. You know we've been able to revoke citizenship, for example, for war criminals. So it is really been in cases where the person's criminal acts are not just vile, but they actually demonstrate that the person has no loyalty of any kind to the country or its values."

Harper said he couldn't understand why Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair believe C-24 demeans Canadian citizenship.

"I think most Canadians, whether they are immigrants or other Canadians, understand that what demeans Canadian citizenship would be to allow war criminals and convicted terrorists and people who are actually out to destroy and defame our country to keep their citizenship," Harper said. "They have a position that is frankly indefensible to virtually all Canadians."

Heated exchange at foreign policy debate

During the Munk Debate on Monday, Trudeau accused Harper of devaluing Canadian citizenship by making it conditional on some types of behaviour. He also raised the possibility Harper might strip dual citizens convicted over other offences.

"It worries me when the first response is not this person needs to be in jail, but it's this person should be given a two-tiered citizenship, that we recognize that someone can be judged differently by our system of laws and rights because their parents were born in a different country. That is not Canadian," Trudeau said during a one-on-one exchange with Harper.

"And particularly from this prime minister who has made a habit of calling out First Nations groups, environmental groups as terrorists, we should be very worried that any prime minister would have the ability to revoke citizenship for people," Trudeau said. "It's a slippery slope."

Harper: 'Of course we have classes'

In an interview with the free daily newspaper Metro, Harper said the rationale used by his opponents for opposing C-24 was a "kind of elite political correctness on steroids."

"We can't have two classes of citizens. What do you mean?" the Conservative leader asked rhetorically. "We can't have a class of people who are war criminals and convicted terrorists, as opposed to everyone else? Of course we have classes."

In his interview with Lawton, Harper also defended the Conservative-brokered $15-billion deal between Saudi Arabia and General Dynamics Land Systems.

Harper said the contract to provide military transport vehicles to the regime was the type that other Western countries bid on. However, the Tory leader said there are "absolutely cases" where a country's human rights record should dissuade the Canadian government from signing military contracts.

"For instance, obviously right now, the situation with Russia. We would not be involved in military sales of any kind to Russia, and where we've imposed heavy sanctions that go way beyond the military sphere and in many other countries it obviously depends, as in this particular case, it would depend on what type of military contract we are entering on."

"We're no apologist for the human rights record for Saudi Arabia but this particular type of contract is something that all of our allies will and do pursue," he later added.

Listen to Harper's full interview with Lawton below: