Connect with us

Canadian News

The people smugglers of Canada




Is the tough application of Canada’s immigration laws justified?

Earlier this year the UN released a striking statistic:

For the first time since World War II over 50 million people are now living as refugees around the world.

As a result rich nations face higher flows of refugee claimants causing many to opt for ever stricter border controls.

But those who are fleeing war and persecution are adopting new tactics, too. Increasingly they are opting to place themselves into the hands of networks of people smugglers who, for a fee, promise to take them to their destination.

This episode of People & Power follows the arrival of two boats with Tamil refugees in Canada and asks whether the tough application of Canada’s immigration laws, resulting in many potential deportations, is justified.

Filmmaker’s View

In August 2010 a ship called the MV Sun Sea reached Canada carrying nearly 500 Sri Lankan Tamils – a journey organised by people smugglers. After having spent 52 days out on sea, hidden deep in the belly of the cargo vessel, the Tamils had finally reached their destination.By Juliana Ruhfus

It wasn’t the first ship with Tamil asylum seekers to have arrived into Canadian waters. Ten months earlier, the MV Ocean Lady, had brought 76 Tamil passengers. All of them said they were fleeing their homeland at the end of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE) by government forces.

Is Canada closing its borders not just to Tamils but to refugees in need of protection?

The landing of the two ships prompted a tough response from the Canadian government. The so-called “boat arrivals” were arrested and put into prison before starting a screening process to determine who could claim refugee status in Canada. Vic Toews, minister of public safety at the time, repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by ‘criminals and terrorists’ entering Canada by sea and abusing its refugee system.

On the other side were refugee advocates who condemned the negative portrayal of the potential refugees. Critics like Peter Showler, director of the refugee forum spoke of a “ludicrous contrast between the extreme reaction and the actuality of the number of claimants coming in” pointing out that in 2010, more refugee claimants from Sri Lanka entered Canada through Vancouver airport than the ones who entered by boat.

A very public debate unfolded in Canada. It is a debate that goes right into the heart of the country’s identity as a nation of immigrants: Is Canada closing its borders not just to Tamils but to refugees in need of protection?

Much of the current discourse surrounding the arrival of the two ships has its roots in the history of the Tamil struggle for independence. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, were fighting to liberate the Tamil north from the discrimination and oppression by the Sinhalese Sri Lankan government. Like many armed movements around the world the LTTE resorted to weapons smuggling and other illegal acts to continue fighting. They also had a specialised navy force, the so-called Sea Tigers, renowned for suicide missions.

The war effort was funded, in large parts, by donations from the diaspora Tamil community who had started fleeing Sri Lanka at the onset of the war in the 1980’s. Amidst allegations that some of the money was extracted by extortion and blackmail, western countries banned the LTTE as a terrorist organisation in 2006, making membership in the Tigers illegal.

By the time the Ocean Lady and Sun Sea reached Canada, Sri Lanka’s government, the LTTE’s old adversary, had a clear message, which was that the Ocean Lady had a track record of smuggling weapons for the Tamil Tigers. It warned that not only were the shipments organised by high ranking Tiger leaders and their associates, but also that prominent LTTE cadres were on board who were fleeing northern Sri Lanka after their defeat to rebuild the organisation from the safety of the West.

Punish the smugglers but not the refugees

None of this, say the critics, justifies the reaction of the Canadian government, which runs the danger of criminalising all refugee claimants without proper investigations. In the wake of the arrival of the two ships, new laws were passed allowing for the designation of groups of two or more people as irregular arrivals and causing a new process to kick in that includes a minimum of a one-year detention, even for children. Accepted refugees now have to wait for up to five years before bringing their families into Canada and the period in which a refugee claimant can make his/her claim has been cut from 90 to 60 days, which refugee lawyers say is hardly enough to obtain the necessary documentation.

As for the nearly 600 Tamils who arrived on the two ships, they are facing a tougher interpretation of existing laws which are increasingly used to prevent refugee claimants from getting admissibility hearings in which they would have the opportunity to argue that they are fleeing persecution.

When is a war no longer a war?

Not just in Canada, but in refugee receiving nations around the world government experts, refugee lawyers and human rights groups are arguing about the risk Tamils face on their return. The Tamils themselves say that the very fact that they tried to flee Sri Lanka will cause the government to see them as LTTE suspects and expose them to the risk of arrest and torture. To date Canada has returned two of the ‘boat arrivals’, one was imprisoned and the other has disappeared. Other western countries are grappling with the same problem. Britain has deported Sri Lankan nationals in spite of huge criticism from human rights groups, as have Norway and Australia, and Switzerland is about to resume forced returns too.

Which leads to what may well be the trickiest issue of all: who determines that a conflict is really over and how is it concluded that those who have lived through it are now safe from persecution thereby allowing for refugee claims to be rejected by potential host nations?

[ Source ]

Canadian News

Ontario to reopen province, guiding principles unveiled



Ontario to reopen province, guiding principles unveiled

THE Ontario government on Monday released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

The framework also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy.

Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Our top priority remains protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario and supporting our frontline heroes as we do everything in our power to contain and defeat this deadly virus,” said Ford. “At the same time, we are preparing for the responsible restart of our economy. This next phase of our response to COVID-19 is designed to help us map out what needs to be done, and when, to get us back on the road to recovery.”

The government is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.

  • Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
  • Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
  • Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.

Throughout each stage, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.

“Recent public health indicators show us that we’re beginning to turn a corner in the COVID-19 outbreak, while economic data, feedback from businesses and insights from our communities are outlining how we need to plan for economic recovery,” said Phillips. “Turning on an economy after an unprecedented shut-down is not as simple as flipping a switch. We need to plan this out carefully to ensure we do not spark a sudden outbreak, undo the progress we have made and put the safety of the public at risk.”

To reopen the economy, the government will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:

  • A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
  • Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
  • Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.

“It is because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians to stay at home and stop the spread of COVID-19 that we are able to consider plans to move into the next phase of our battle against this virus,” said Elliott. “The Chief Medical Officer of Health has outlined some criteria he will use to advise government on when we may begin to slowly and safely ease public health measures and restart our economy. To be able to do so, w e need everyone to continue their extraordinary efforts so that we can meet these thresholds and begin to move forward.”

Supporting the next phases of Ontario’s Action Plan, the new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, chaired by Minister Phillips, will be consulting with key sectors in all regions to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop a plan to move forward. The government and Members of Provincial Parliament will lead discussions with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the postsecondary sector, corporate leaders, small business owners, community and social service providers, Indigenous partners, Franco-Ontarians, entrepreneurs and others.

The work of the committee will build on Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the first phase of the government’s $17 billion response, that is delivering targeted relief for businesses and families across Ontario.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has had far-reaching economic impacts for businesses and communities across Ontario,” said Fedeli. “In the face of these challenges, businesses and individuals have stepped up to support our frontline workers, produce essential equipment and keep our supply chains moving. Our plan to carefully and methodically reopen Ontario’s economy will ensure that businesses are supported on our path to renewed economic prosperity.”

Continue Reading

Canadian News

Stephen Lecce, Ontario education minister appoints investigator to examine Peel District School Board



Ontario education minister appoints investigator to examine Peel District School Board

ONTARIO’S Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, on Tuesday announced he has appointed Arleen Huggins to conduct an investigation into the Peel District School Board’s compliance with the Minister’s binding Directions to the Board issued on March 13.

“We expect our school leaders – trustees, senior administration, and educators – to ensure all students are learning in safe and inclusive classrooms,” said Lecce. “This is why effective, transparent, and accountable school board governance is essential to the success and well-being of students in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.”

Huggins is a practising lawyer with 30 years experience in employment law, human rights law, workplace harassment and discrimination investigations and commercial litigation. She is a former President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and a Former Chair of both the Canadian Bar Association Standing Committee on Equity and the Ontario Bar Association Equal Opportunity Committee.  Huggins was also on the founding Board of the African Canadian Legal Clinic and has served on the Doctors Without Borders Human Resources Committee and the federal Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) for the GTA.

With the issuance of 27 binding Directions to the Board on March 13, the minister provided clear direction with specific timelines and deliverables to address systemic discrimination, particularly anti-Black racism, as well as dysfunctional governance, leadership and human resources practices within the PDSB.

“When it comes to confronting racism and discrimination, I will not accept delay or inaction,” added Lecce. “The message I am sending is — do better. Our kids deserve better. And I will do whatever it takes to ensure these issues are addressed immediately and effectively.”

The Ontario Government said it is committed to ensuring PDSB complies with the minister’s binding directions so that parents, students and the community get the positive change that they need and deserve.

Huggins will deliver her report to the minister on or before May 18.

The PDSB is responsible for 257 schools in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, and over 155,000 students representing a rich array of racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds.

Continue Reading

Canadian News

COVID-19″ More Indo-Canadians returning are from India



More flights carrying Canadians leave India

CANADIAN High Commissioner in New Delhi, Nadir Patel, tweeted on Wednesday morning that the 15th special flight from India to Canada – had left Mumbai, bringing home more Canadian travelers stranded in India.

He added: “More special flights taking place in the coming days, thanks to all for your patience while we work through the complexities.”

On Tuesday, the 14th special flight with Canadians took off from Kolkata and Patel tweeted: “Huge thanks to our colleagues Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell & his team for collaborating to make this happen.”

The 13th special flight with Canadians had departed from Bangalore on Monday, covering six states in the south.

And last Sunday (April 26) the 12th special flight from India departed from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with nearly 300 Canadians aboard.

More flights carrying Canadians leave India

More flights carrying Canadians leave India

Continue Reading

Follow us on Twitter


Skip to toolbar