Immigration Watch Canada

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Immigration Watch Canada

Post by eva on Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:06 pm


By Christina Spencer and Laura Stone; and Judith Lavoie and Katie DeRosa,
Postmedia News and Times Colonist
August 13, 2010

Canadian authorities boarded a Tamil migrant ship carrying 490 would-be refugees late Thursday night off the coast of British Columbia, after intercepting the vessel in the afternoon and escorting it toward Victoria.

HMCS Winnipeg made visual contact with the MV Sun Sea late in the morning, a federal official confirmed. In the afternoon, the vessel entered Canada's territorial waters, inside the 12-nautical mile limit.

The ship is expected to land at CFB Esquimalt, where tents have been set up for their arrival late Thursday night or early this morning.

Echoing tough statements the government has made all week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the new arrivals include suspected people smugglers and terrorists.

"Human-smuggling and human-trafficking are despicable crimes. They are both illegal and dangerous.

"Human-smugglers and human-traffickers are now watching Canada's response to judge whether or not they can continue to take advantage of us. . . . We will send a message loud and clear to other criminals: 'If you do this, then you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.' "

Toews said while the government wants to protect real refugees, "it is imperative that we prevent supporters and members of a criminal or terrorist organization from abusing Canada's refugee system."

Personnel from National Defence, the RCMP and the Canadian Border Services Agency boarded the vessel Thursday night.

"From there, control of the ship will be in Canada's hands," said an official with Toews' office.

There was no sign of resistance by the Sun Sea to directions given by the navy. But the condition of the passengers ­ believed to include women and children ­ was not yet known.

The ship appeared off the British Columbia coast earlier this week after a months-long journey under the watchful eye of authorities.

Experts say the migrants are likely fleeing Sri Lanka after the end of a war of independence between the Tamil Tigers army and the Sri Lankan government. The Tamil Tigers are considered a terrorist organization by Canada and its members are banned from entering the country.

Staff at the Victoria General Hospital were busy preparing to treat the migrants, after reports that one person may have died on board.

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