More Tamils Heading For Canada?

More Tamils heading for Canada?

By Bryn Weese, Parliamentary Bureau
The Toronto Sun
Last Updated: October 17, 2010 10:13pm

OTTAWA—The federal government is aware of a second group of Sri Lankans preparing to embark for Canada, QMI Agency has learned.

The news comes after the federal government has stepped up co-operation with “transit” countries like Thailand to crack down on human smuggling rings looking to abuse Canada's immigration laws, according to a senior government official.

Last week, Thai officials arrested 155 Sri Lankan immigrants believed to be Tamil Tigers heading to other countries including Canada to seek asylum en masse.

The official hinted the Canadian government was directly involved in those arrests.

“The recent arrests in Thailand under Thai immigration laws are a reminder that human smuggling operators have also used Thailand as a transit country to target Canada's immigration system,” the senior government official said on the condition of anonymity.

“The Government of Canada is working closely with authorities in transit countries, such as Thailand, to detect and disrupt human smuggling operations before they reach Canada.

“While we will not comment on specific operational practices, stronger co-operation with authorities in transit countries such as Thailand is part of the Government of Canadas overall strategy to prevent human smugglers from abusing Canadas immigration system.

The official said the federal government is finalizing tougher legislation, which will be introduced this fall and will crack down on human smugglers.

In August, the Thai-registered MV Sun Sea arrived on the coast of British Columbia with 492 Sri Lankans on board.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said at the time he didnt view the Sun Sea as an isolated, independent act and he believed others with similar intentions were watching to see how Canada dealt with the situation.

In 2009, another vessel carrying 76 Tamil asylum seekers arrived in B.C.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government needed new laws to deter human smuggling.

“I know for the vast majority of Canadians, queue jumping and human smuggling in our immigration system is completely unacceptable and we'll take the steps necessary to deal with it, Harper said.