VICTORIA, August 14, 2010 (AFP) – Hundreds of Tamils seeking asylum from Sri Lanka sailed into Canada on Friday under the scrutiny of authorities, who vowed to screen out Tiger rebels after charges that the country is too welcoming. After three months on the Pacific, a navy frigate escorted the shabby, Thai-flagged MV Sun Sea cargo ship onto Vancouver Island. Authorities brought out the 490 migrants one by one, shielding them from view with black umbrellas.
Buses with blacked-out windows transported the 490 migrants inland, as armed soldiers stood guard. Rob Johnston of the Canada Border Services Agency said it would take up two to three days to hold initial interviews with all of them.
The ship’s progress has been monitored for weeks, triggering a furor in Canada over whether the boat migrants were jumping the queue while thousands of other applicants await their turn.
“Our goal is to ensure that our refugee system is not being hijacked by criminals or terrorists,” Public Security Minister Vic Toews told reporters.
He vowed that Canada, known for some of the world’s most welcoming asylum policies, would not allow itself to be a target for human smugglers. Toews also said the conservative government was cons