Jim Creskey at The Embassy:
Kenney—with some help from Prime Minister Harper and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews—used the arrival of two boatloads of Tamil asylum seekers in an attempt to prod public opinion toward the idea that “bogus” refugee claimants were overrunning Canada.
Pretending to punish smugglers—who were largely phantoms out of reach of Canadian authority—he put forward Bill C-49, which resolutely set out policies that would punish the refugees themselves.
C-49 was a profoundly flawed piece of work that proposed building special prisons for refugees who had the good luck to escape to Canada from foreign murder and mayhem but the bad luck to have been caught using the help of a smuggler. Further punishments included the withholding of family reunions as well as healthcare and other services.
It was a strategy that promised to sweep up more votes from ordinary Canadians who could be sold the idea that they needed to be protected from a flood of illegal arrivals. It was pure theatre, with the two ministers and even the prime minister turning up at the two rusting hulks, the Ocean Lady and the Sun Sea, to promote their bill, the extremely wordy Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act.