Tories 'welcome' Ocean Lady arrests

Will re-introduce anti-human smuggling legislation

By ,Parliamentary Bureau

First posted:

OTTAWA, ON - Public Safety Minister Vic Toews "welcomed" news of the four arrests Tuesday in connection to the Ocean Lady migrant ship that arrived in October, 2009.

And he hinted the Conservative government will move quickly to re-introduce controversial anti-human smuggling legislation that died when Parliament was dissolved for the election.

But critics say the arrests prove the current laws work, and the government needn't bring in harsher penalties for legitimate refugees, as they say the government bill would do.

Reports suggest the government will introduce the anti-human smuggling bill this spring, and not wait until the fall.

"We want to reiterate out government's position -- it's clear -- human smuggling is a despicable crime. Not only does it take advantage financially of underprivileged and desperate people, but also puts peoples lives at risk," Toews told reporters Tuesday.

"This series of migrant vessels has indicated we do need stronger legislation, and we're committed to bringing in stronger legislation that preserves the integrity of Canadian borders, and our immigration system."

In Oct. 2009, the MV Ocean Lady arrived on Canada's west coast, carrying 76 Tamil migrants who all sought refugee status. Less than a year later, the MV Sun Sea landed in B.C. carrying nearly 500 Tamils.

The Conservatives introduced a bill last fall in the wake of the MV Sun Sea migrant ship that would allow the government to detain illegal migrants -- even those ultimately accepted as legitimate refugees -- for up to one year, and prohibit them from become landed immigrants or sponsoring family members to join them in Canada for five years.

The Conservatives say the new measures will deter would-be passengers from forking over tens of thousands to organized crime rings that profit from moving migrants.

But New Democrat immigration and citizenship critic Don Davies said Tuesday's arrests actually "counter" the government's claims that tougher laws are needed.

"Obviously the laws we have presently allowed the police to apprehend these people and charge them," Davies said. "I think these arrests pose a problem for the government."

Currently, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, people who help 11 or more undocumented migrants into Canada could face life in prison and a $1-million fine.

The opposition parties blasted the government for their anti-human smuggling bill then and now because they said it punished refugees who use whatever means necessary -- including illegal ones -- to escape persecution in the home country.

Davies said the government's proposed bill, "inaccurately places the focus on the refugees themselves by targeting the penalties at them instead of at the people who might truly be responsible for the criminal behaviour behind it."

Despite the opposition, the bill is expected to pass easily in the Conservative majority Parliament.





As usual, the conservatives have yet to use their brains and learn how to "spot the issue" and address issues at the root cause. When you have the likes of Stockwell Day and Vic Towes making decisions, then its not unexpected.

The conservatives already have a huge range of legal tools at their disposal. One in particular we have not hear about is that they can seize the property of those who fund "migrant ships" and launch litigation in other countries to do exactly the same in those countries for the damages that their actions have caused Canada.

The conservatives measures are a joke. "Five years" waiting to be able to sponsor is not going to deter anyone.

A lifetime ban on becoming a Canadian Citizen or landed immigrant, a ban on receiving a passport except for he purposes of returning to their country of departure, a lifetime ban on being able to sponsor anyone to Canada should be the price to be paid. Where a people pay criminal gangs to  use "migrant ship" to enter Canada, there must be the most extreme repercussions or the problem will just escalate into a flood of ships financing criminals to bring criminals to Canada who will sponsor their criminal associates and family.