Migrant ship was a “test boat” - Macleans.ca

Migrant ship was a “test boat”

Public safety minister suggests other migrants are waiting to see how Ottawa handles refugee claims


Calling the ship that carried 490 Tamil migrants to Canada last Friday a “test boat,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews suggested on Monday that “other boats may be waiting to see what the Government of Canada’s reaction is to it.” Ottawa has already said humanitarian considerations preclude turning away similar ships, but the federal government is looking at prosecuting those who profit from organizing the voyages. “The sanitation on that ship was far in excess of what it usually be outfitted with,” Toews said. “It was clearly designed to maximize the number of passengers on board and therefore maximize the amount of profit that the organization running this ship would achieve.” Hearings of refugee claims by the Tamil migrants were set to begin on Monday. A letter written by some of the asylum seekers and obtained by the National Post argues those aboard the MV Sun Sea are fleeing persecution and violence in Sri Lanka. “We have traveled for almost four months with much suffering and pain. We have come here, to this wonderful country Canada, to protect ourselves and our family members from the murders, disappearances and violence that still exist in our native country,” it read. “As a country which has embraced immigrants and migrants, we hope and believe that you will accept us, the refugees and we vow to wholeheartedly abide by the law and order of this country.”

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Migrant ship was a “test boat”

  1. Confiscating the ship, putting the captain on trial and even going after other assets of the ship's owners all seem like viable approaches. Of course, it is unfortunate that the amoral Toews would have us do this our of fear rather than compassion, but I don't think his emotional palette stretches beyond the primitive.

    This is a much better approach than Toew's other lead balloon of asking pseudo-rogue states to illegally intercept suspicious ships for us.

  2. This matter has to be approached delicately. Many would-be refugees don't have the option of applying for retugee status before leaving their country — they need to escape their country before they can apply for asylum.

    Stronger screening may be in order, but summarily turning refugee ships away while still at sea doesn't strike me as a viable option.

  3. I did not understand the phrase:

    "The sanitation on that ship was far in excess of what it usually be outfitted with,”

    Even when i consider the rest of the quote, is there 2 meanings to sanitation that i am unfamiliar with? Are they saying the ship was clean? i am sure to get lambasted for this.

    • toilet and wash facilities expanded to accomodate 500 people

    • It means more toilet facilities than would be expected, meaning it was equipped to handle even more passengers if needed.

    • These so-called nefarious types sure are considerate of the sanitation needs of their passengers. If it weren't for the minister's resolute revilement of these sea-farers, one might think them to actually be human.

  4. I keep getting the sinking feeling that Toews's comments are calculated to motivate the core Conservative base. First it was fear of crime; now it's fear of being overrun by immigrants/refugees. And the idea that unnamed people out there are looking to test Canada's resolve is such a uniquely Conservative way of looking at the world.

    It could be the case that Toews is looking for an intelligent debate on the subject. It also could be the case that pigs may suddenly someday achieve self-propelled flight. I don't trust the government to think of anything but its own best interest on this issue (or on any other).

    • Precisely what nuanced, sensitive, and progressive wording would make you more comfortable? Personally, I'd prefer a plain-spoken explanation of what the minister suspects and why. And we seem to be getting that. I'm more than happy if he leaves the "nuance" and "sensitivity" to the hand-wringers at the Toronto Star.

  5. A Minister of the Crown, Vic Toews, has crossed the line by publicly prejudging the passengers and crew of the MV Sun Sea without stating clearly that he has direct evidence of those 'other boats' or of illegal activity. He doesn't have to provide specifics at this point, but he has an obligation to state that he has evidence of what he's speculating about.

  6. Next they'll be saying their last 4 years in government was just a test and that next year is the real thing.

  7. I don't understand. What was last year's migrants called? Why should this incident be any different?

  8. It's a difficult situation because of the political mess that is Sri Lanka. On the one hand, these people have been mistreated by the Sinhalese government, while on the other they have been abused by the Tamil LTTE. However, there may well also be LTTE members on these ships, and we already know that they continue their abuse of their own people here in Canada – shaking them down for money, threatening and assaulting the persons and property of Tamils who speak out against them, not to mention being the likely perpetrators of the arson of a Buddhist temple in Toronto.

    I sincerely have compassion for the Tamils who aren't involved with the LTTE, but the terrorist group sure as hell complicates things.

    • The problem starts when you allow the "refugees" in. You may detain them, question, interrogate… but they are in! Remember the Gypsies from Czech Republic. Compassion or not, Canadians should look after themselves as priority #1. Then their friends. And if there is some money left, let's be compassionate to even terrorists. heh?

  9. if these guys get refugee status, Canada is finished! every idiot in the world will get on a boat and expect to get the same, reason or not!

  10. This has nothing whatever to do with either immigration regulations, which is not Toews' responsibility, or with public safety, which is. All of this is simply about changing the channel from the census debacle and prisons being built to hold unreported criminals. Everyone should remember that this is coming from a man who ranted about how family values are the foundation of our society. It turns out that to Vic Toews family values means women do what they are told and he can trade in a wife of many years for a younger and firmer one.

    You cannot believe anything Vic Toews says. He is perfectly willing to abuse refugees if it gets him one more vote from those who hold the same "family values".

    • It was awfully nice of these Tamils to shell out about a quarter of the average net worth of a Canadian household, each, to set sail months ago in order to arrive on schedule to change the channel from the census.

  11. Was Mr. Toews careful to make these statements in the House of Commons? Wouldn't it be ironic if they got to stay to pursue a defamation action?

  12. Hard to believe a so-called 'First World Country' like Canada doesn't have the backbone to ensure its own borders and protects its citizens. Countries that cowardly don't remain sovereign for long.sovereignty.

  13. I understand that refugees fleeing one country for another are supposed to go to the nearest country that will accept refugees. I wonder why they passed God knows how many countries in their 90 day trip to Canada. I can name at least 20 other countries closer than Canada where they could have landed.

    • Those countries don't have the Canadian Welfare System. Those countries wouldn't put up with the same B.S. being shovelled at Canadians from the bogus refugees. For $50,000 the could have flown here but, then again, they would have had to wait in line like any other immigrant. The Tamil immigrants/refugees that are already here, should have to pay completely for the support the refugees, by having them live with them and take complete responsibility for any illegal activities they commit, if they want the refugees to stay in Canada. And also pay for all the expenses that Canadians have had to pay up till now.

  14. Turn the ship around. As soon as it enters canadian waters. Turn it around. Not just this boat. All boats headed this way.

  15. There is FEAR of being OVERRUN by by IMMIGRANTS/REFUGEES because that is whats hapening you ony need to look at LONDON, England to see this. THERE ARE OVER 4 BILLION!!! people who's lives are at risk according to the UN are we supposed to take them all???!!!! and FOR THE RECORD I AM A PROUD NDP MEMBER!

  16. The international law that Canada seems so hell bent to ensure they follow whereby a country is obliged to accept persucuted refugees, was not intended to protect economic refugees. These people were "fleeing" a perfectly safe environment with the intent of reaching a promised land. If someone is truly persecuted and there is danger in their homeland, we should look at accepting them as legitimate refugees. However, this is pure abuse of the system and Canada's immigration seems to condone it.

  17. Can our intelligence services, and those they co-operate with, not take more vigorous action against the organizers of human traffic? Of course this is easier suggested than done, and (who knows?) perhaps a lot of emigration scams have been suppressed. Still, one gets the impression that these criminals are not tracked down as assiduously as are drug traffickers or terrorists.