OTTAWA, June 16, 2011 (AFP) – A Canadian minister on Thursday unveiled measures to curb human smuggling, calling it a “despicable crime” that abused country’s “generosity” towards immigrants and refugees. The proposed law is in response to a wave of arrivals in Canada aboard rickety cargo ships that has weakened public support for the country’s policies towards migrants, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said.
Canadian border officials detained 492 Tamils who arrived in August 2010 aboard the ship MV Sun Sea. Another 76 asylum seekers were arrested a year earlier upon arrival to the west coast aboard the Ocean Lady freighter.
On Tuesday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police charged four Sri Lankan nationals with organizing the 2009 human smuggling operation. They face a maximum life sentence and CAN$1 million ($1 million) fine if convicted.
“Human smuggling is a despicable crime and any attempts to abuse Canada’s generosity for financial gain will not be tolerated,” said Toews.
“We are sending a clear message that our doors are open to those who play by the rules — including all legitimate refugees. However, we will crack down on those who endanger human lives and threaten the integr