Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews renewed calls Wednesday for tougher measures to curb human smuggling.
“New information” suggests that “syndicated criminal networks are organizing migrant smuggling ventures potentially destined for Canada” AFP reported quoting the Canadian Minister.
“Action is needed now... before further boats turn up on Canadian shores,” he said.
He called on the Canadian opposition parties to pass the government's tougher human trafficking bill.
Last Monday The Ottawa Citizen, citing unnamed security intelligence sources, reported that exiled LTTE leaders were re-establishing their violent separatist movement in Canada.
“We don’t know how far advanced it is, but their intent is pretty clear -- to set up a base-in-exile here for the leadership. Some leadership is already here,” a government official was quoted as saying.
The newspaper also said intelligence sources warned that two ships may be launched from Asian ports carrying as many as 50 former LTTE leaders and cadres headed for Canada’s west coast.
"I'm not going to deny that. What I'm going to say is that I am well aware of ongoing efforts by human smugglers to organize at least a couple more ships with the target being Canada," Toews said Wednesday from British Columbia.
Canadian border officials detained 492 Tamils who arrived in August aboard the rickety cargo ship MV Sun Sea. Another 76 were arrested a year earlier upon arrival to Canada’s west coast aboard another freighter.
According to Toronto Sun Bill C-49, which was introduced following the arrival of the MV Sun Sea would give the government more powers to deal with refugee claimants.
In addition to providing stiff prison time and fines for the smugglers, the asylum seekers themselves could be detained for up to a year under the new law and would be prohibited from applying for permanent residence status for five years.
Also, refugees who arrive through human trafficking operations would not be able to sponsor family members for five years either, and if they return to their home country, they could lose their status entirely.
"There is nothing in the legislation that sets up a roadblock to legitimate refugees making a claim when they arrive in Canada, even if they have arrived through illegal, or so called irregular means," Toews said.
The bill hasn't been scheduled yet for second reading in the House of Commons. If passed, it would then go off to committee for a clause-by-clause study before being sent back to the House with amendments for a third and final vote.
So far, federal courts here have identified at least two of the MV Sun Sea passengers as suspected LTTE, which Canada outlawed as a terrorist group in 2006, the Toronto Sun reported.