|MV Sun Sea off BC coast under navy escort|
Today in Richmond, BC, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues the Conservatives' "Tough on Human Smuggling" theme again that has been featured in TV ads that were denounced by the National Council of Tamil Canadians as "bordering on racism." His news release is below in full.
One can only presume the Tories think recent immigrants and other Canadians hate refugees in desperate situations who take enormous risks to get to our country and claim refugee status. That likely is the result of Conservative polling and focus group sessions.
I sincerely hope the Conservatives are wrong and their shameful fear campaign against refugees backfires.
After all, if you don't understand what would drive families to endanger their lives on a rusty ship and spend their entire savings to escape from a country where they believe they could be killed, are you really sympathetic to any immigrants?
Conservative Party of Canada
April 17, 2011
For Immediate Release
HARPER VOWS TO CRACK DOWN ON HUMAN SMUGGLING
RICHMOND, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper today re-confirmed his commitment to crack down on human smugglers who seek to abuse Canada's immigration system. A re-elected Conservative Government will re-introduce legislation that would strengthen Canada's ability to prosecute human smugglers, deter illegal migrants who seek to jump the queue, prevent human smuggling operations before they leave for Canada, and maintain the integrity and fairness of our immigration system.
“A re-elected Conservative Government will take action to prevent the abuse of Canada's immigration system by human smugglers,” Mr. Harper said. “Our legislation will send a clear message: Canada opens its doors to those who work hard and play by the rules, while cracking down on those who seek to take advantage of our generosity and abuse our fair and welcoming immigration system.”
In the wake of the arrival of the MV Sun Sea last summer, Stephen Harper’s Government introduced Bill C-49 (Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act). The bill — which Michael Ignatieff and his Coalition partners, the NDP and Bloc Québécois, opposed — would have made it easier for law enforcement agencies to prosecute human smugglers and would have held ship owners and operators accountable for the use of their ships in human smuggling operations. It would also have prevented the release of illegal migrants until Canadian authorities determined whether they were legitimate refugees or foreign criminals.
Bill C-49 also contained a number of measures to deter illegal migrants from using human smugglers to come to Canada, including:
• Ensuring that illegal migrants who obtain refugee status can be re-assessed within five years to determine whether they still need protection or can be returned to their country of origin.
• Ensuring that illegal migrants who apply for refugee status are not able to come back to Canada if they return to the country from which they sought refuge, or if they demonstrate in other ways that they are not legitimately in need of Canada's protection.
• Preventing illegal migrants from sponsoring family members for five years.
Mr. Harper criticized the Ignatieff-led Coalition for opposing Bill C-49.
“Mr. Ignatieff and his NDP and Bloc Québécois partners believe that Canadians should bear the risk of releasing illegal migrants into their communities, before we have made basic determinations about their identity and prior involvement in illegal activities. That is a reckless and irresponsible position,” said Mr. Harper.
“Our actions will help prevent the abuse of Canada's immigration system by human smugglers, which Michael Ignatieff and his Coalition partners are quite willing to allow to continue unaddressed.”
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