Tamil asylum-seekers spark Canadian vitriol, anger

When I read this article the writer obviously missed the point. And to make a statement of how Canadians are angry at our government without knowing the stories of these illegals is rubbish. There is an immigration system for a reason, it is to make it fair for everyone who wants to immigrate here.

People are protesting against this not only because there was speculation of terrorists etc on the ship but because these people got onto a ship got turned away by Australia and Thialand and then finally big surprise, Canada welcomes them with warm reception. “Everyone’s got a story” including those waiting overseas, waiting through the immigration process to be reunited with families in Canada and epsecially those in worse situations waiting in UN refugee camps…they’re suffering as well.

But what people might not know as well is that people do this everyday by better means, by plane and not 500 at a time.  They make their way in Canada and once they’re on Canadian soil (at a Canadian airport or border) they apply for refugee status. What people outside of Canada may not know is that once someone applies for refugee status, they automatically receive welfare, shelter, medications etc for them and if they have 10 kids, them too on behalf of taxpayers. And a high percentage of refugee claimants disappear off the radar.


Article from thestar ….

“Send them back.”

“These boat people are abusing the system, taking us for a ride.”

“So they’ve come from a very bad situation. So what? So do a lot of other people … why should we have to take everyone in?”

Since the MV Sun Sea — the boat carrying 490 Tamil refugees — docked near Victoria on Friday, news websites and call-in radio shows have been inundated with vitriolic comments, media coverage has been sensational and there’s even been a protest against letting the boat into Canadian waters.

Angry people from across the country have accused the asylum-seekers of jumping the immigration queue, being associated with Tamil Tigers — an organization banned by many countries, including Canada — and of being a burden on Canadian taxpayers.

This level of backlash and mass hysteria is unexpected but not unprecedented, say experts.

“It’s is not the first time that the Canadian government has whipped up public anxiety at the arrival of asylum-seekers,” said Myer Siemiatycki, a professor in immigration settlement studies at Ryerson University.

It has happened numerous times but most recently in 1987 when 174 Sikhs landed by boat in Charlesville, N.S., and again in 1999 when some 600 Chinese migrants arrived at the shores of British Columbia.

There was mass hysteria then, just like it is now.

“When the government uses words like smuggling, Tamil Tigers and terrorists, most Canadians assume there is evidence,” said Siemiatycki. “But there isn’t … and making statements like that is irresponsible and does terrible injustice to the people on the boat.”

The Canadian government is partially responsible for stoking this mass hysteria, he added.

What’s playing out “is the sixth or the seventh sequel of some Grade B horror movie called Here Come the Boat People,” said Siemiatycki. “It’s the same thing every time … it’s tiresome, unworthy of Canada.”

Human rights activists also fear that this kind of fear-mongering creates a climate of hate and people become distrustful of all immigrants and refugees.

“Is that what we want?” asked Walid Khugali, who works with the Canadian Arab Federation.

But he doesn’t think this mass anger will make government send refugees away. “That would be shocking and damaging for Canada’s international reputation if we make any changes in law.”

In a country where almost 30,000 people apply for refugee protection every year — roughly a hundred people a day — there’s nothing extraordinary about these 490 Tamil asylum-seekers, said Hadayt Nazami, a lawyer who works with Barbara Jackman and represented several Tamil refugees who came aboard Ocean Lady last fall.

“The amount of prejudice and bigotry is shocking,” said Nazami. “It’s only taken one boat to incite so much hatred.”

But he agrees there are some genuine concerns out there.

The large number of asylum-seekers means it’ll take time to eliminate fears of any association with the Tamil Tigers. “What people don’t understand is that it’s impossible for anyone with a questionable background to get into Canada. If they are not genuine refugees, they will go back. But we have to give them a chance.”

Canadians will be gentler and more inclusive once they hear the stories of these people, predicts Lorne Waldman, a well-known Toronto immigration lawyer.

“They will then see that these are human beings and have led a terrible existence … I think the reaction will change,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tamil-Canadian advocacy groups say they are trying to clear misconceptions.

“When we heard about the boat, we knew some people would be upset about it,” said Manjula Selvarajah, a spokesperson for Canadian Tamil Congress. “We are now realizing that somehow our community hasn’t shed enough light on what’s happening with Tamils in Sri Lanka, or the contribution that Tamils have made in Canada.”