Process migrants offshore - Fmr. Canadian HC to Lanka

Process migrants offshore - Fmr. Canadian HC to Lanka

August 13, 2010   07:25 am


A former high commissioner to Sri Lankasays that unless Canadatakes steps to make this country a less attractive destination, they will soon be the target of boat after boat of asylum seekers from around the world.


Martin Collacott, a former senior diplomat for Canada with extensive experience in Asia, tells QMI Agency that the MV Sun Sea, the ship filed with hundreds of Tamil refugee claimants, set sail for Canada because our refugee laws our lax, our acceptance rates are high and our benefits generous.


Canadais an easier mark,” said Collacott. “They like Canada because we give much higher rates of acceptance than anyone else. Our acceptance rate is three times the international average.”


The former diplomat said that the Sun Sea had been planning to sail for Australia but that country is bringing back a tough program aimed at cutting down the number of boats that arrive on Australian shores.


In the late 1990s Australiabecame the destination of choice for ships carrying asylum seekers.


As the numbers grew to thousands a year, many coming on rickety boats, the government brought in tough changes. From 2001 through 2007, boats filled with refugee claimants would be intercepted and taken to processing centres offshore.


The use of processing centres on small islands in the Pacific stopped the would-be refugees from using Australia’s generous laws to appeal their cases for years on end while also drawing welfare payments.


The arrivals slowed to a trickle. When the newly elected Labour government did away with what was dubbed “The Pacific Solution” in 2007, the boats started heading for Australiaagain. The processing centres are now reopening.


Asked if Canadacould implement such a solution, Collacott said yes. “Canada should come to an agreement with a Central American country like Guatemalato open a processing centre,” Collacott said. “No one wants to claim refugee status in Guatemala.”, reports The Toronto Sun.

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