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Ottawa's handling of ‘Sun Sea’ Tamils just for show

2014-11-07 17:05
In a democracy, it is not enough for laws to be interpreted fairly. They must also be applied and enforced fairly. Simply speaking, everyone should be treated the same.

For example, if two people were to be found speeding, the government shouldn’t treat one more harshly than the other for political reasons.

Based on my former experience as an immigration officer and based on my 23 years of experience practicing exclusively in immigration law I can’t help but conclude that this is exactly what is going on in Vancouver right now with the 492 Tamil refugees who arrived off the shores of British Columbia on Aug. 13 aboard the MV Sun Sea.

Our government was criticized for not steering this ship away from Canadian shores which, of course, could have further risked the lives of the 380 men, 63 women and 49 children aboard the migrant ship.

Accordingly, having suffered embarrassment, our government has decided to play hardball and dole out “special” treatment for these particular refugees for the entire world to see.

Very few Tamil claimants who appear at a Canadian port-of-entry by air or land are detained, and if so, only for a few days while their identity is confirmed. The chances of Tamil women with accompanying children and genuine identification documents being detained on arrival are very small. Yet each and every man, woman and child aboard the Sun Sea, without exception, was ordered detained. This clearly contradicts the department’s own policy manual which mandates an “individual assessment” of each case and instructs officers “to consider all reasonable alternatives before ordering the detention of an individual.” The manual concedes that even those with criminal convictions “might not be a menace to public safety” and can be released.

It took a month for the first Tamil, a pregnant mother of three, to be released. Since then the Immigration and Refugee Board has agreed to the release of four more