Czech PM Says Canada ‘Soft’ On Asylum Seekers

Czech PM says Canada soft' on asylum seekers

Globe and Mail Update
May 6, 2009 at 11:15 AM EDT

Prague Canada is soft on asylum seekers, says Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who didn't exactly bristle at the comment, was very quick to comment that the flow of refugee claimants from the Czech Republic to Canada is a real concern.

Unless, there is improvement the government of Canada will have to take some actions, he said, not specifying what those measures could be.

However, Canada lifted its visa requirement for Czech visitors in 2007.

Mr. Harper and his Czech counterpart met Wednesday in Prague as part of a one-day Canada-European Union Summit. The presidency of the EU rotates and it is the Czech Republic's turn to lead.

It's not necessarily the fault of the Czech Republic but it is a reality that we do have to deal with, said the Prime Minister about the immigration situation.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is looking at a range of ways of dealing with this. Mr. Kenney will be travelling to Prague to discuss the issue.

Since Canada lifted its visa requirements for Czech visitors in 2007, there has been an increase in refugee claimants from the minority Roma community here.

There were 78 claims in the last two months of 2007, according to reports. There were none in 2006.

In 2008 there were 853 Czechs who sought Canadian protection.