Boat People 2010

Canada really has no idea how many illegal immigrants are living in this country. The estimates range from 35,000 to 120,000 – but those are just guesses. We have no reliable refugee screening process.  Deportation orders are routinely ignored and little attempt is made to enforce them. We just seem to lose track of them.

So it’s kind of strange to me that people are so up in arms about the 490 Sri Lankan migrants (including 90 women and 45 children) who arrived by boat on the Pacific coast last week. Canadian Border Services and Immigration Canada had things well in hand since they’ve been watching the boat, the MV Sun Sea, make its ever-so-slow,  three-month journey to Canada.

Very considerate of them to give us plenty of time to get ourselves organized, because lord knows  our government  moves like Keystone Kops on Demerol.  

But we had lots of time, so made sure the ship was escorted to shore; we made sure all the migrants had health checks, security and criminal records checks and managed to get all their fingerprints and photos taken.

And, we arranged to make contact with Canadians who thought they might have family members on board the MV Sun Sea. Those 135 people identified will presumably be turned over to their Canadian family members at some point. The rest are being held in detention centres until we figure out exactly what’s going on with them and what to do with them.

Still, online discussions and letters to newspapers show an almost consistent outrage from Canadians. There are reported rumours that some of these refugees might be terrorists or human traffickers. Canadians seem to want them all sent back home.

We begrudge them the medical attention they’re getting, while we have to wait months to get an appointment to see our GPs. We begrudge them the “taxpayer dollars” it’s taking to process, house and feed the migrants. We think these refugees are all going to end up on welfare or end up killing us in our sleep.

Back in 1939, the MS St. Louis arrived in Halifax carrying 907 German Jews trying to escape persecution and genocide by the Nazis. Roosevelt’s government in the US hadn’t even bothered to reply to the ship captain’s request to dock, so they came north. A group of Canadian businessmen and academics pleaded with Prime Minister Mackenzie King to grant these 907 people asylum.

“Not our problem,” said King and sent the boat back to Europe where most of the passengers of the MS St. Louis ended up in gas chambers.

That wasn’t the first time Canada sent refugees back to their country to be killed. But it did prompt the United Nations to oblige us not to send people to their home country if they face persecution there. 

We are also obliged, under international law, to not take any action until a refugee ship actually lands on our shores. So, we can’t just swim out and tell them to go home. That’s out of our jurisdictin.

Morally and ethically, we also can’t just not allow them to dock in case they need food, water or medical attention. We can’t let human beings die in a boat a few miles from our shores.

And, if we hesitate to allow them to dock, some boats in the past have been deliberately scuttled so that we were forced to go and rescue the passengers and bring them to shore anyway.

So, we really had no choice but to accept them. But what now?

Our immigration and refugee system is seriously flawed and needs a lot of work. Nobody can argue with that. But what’s the big deal about this particular boatload of people? We get way more illegals arriving by plane and land all the time than these few surviving a lengthy, crazy-assed ocean voyage.

Canada took in some 137,000 Vietnamese, Chinese, Lao and Kampuchean boat people in the late 1970s and early 1980s. That’s proven to have been a win-win situation for everyone involved. The refugees assimilated into society quickly, got jobs, started businesses and enriched our society enormously.

There is no reason to think these Sri Lankan migrants won’t be equally successful. The rumours about terrorists and human trafficking aren’t facts, and may very well just be misinformation disseminated by the people they’re trying to escape back home.  That’s a well-known tactic.

And, if  the rumours do turn out to be true, our screening process has some chance of figuring that out and maybe not letting them run away and disappear. Surely?

Are we really more afraid of people coming to Canada from other countries or of our government not being able to handle them properly? 

From what I’ve seen, and from the statistics we have, immigrants and refugees work hard and contribute significantly to the economy, culture and social fabric.  

Sure, like with anything, there are always going to be bad apples —  and it would be really nice if we had some effective processes in place to deal with them —  but that’s no reason to slam the doors shut on all migrants. Is it?


47 responses to “Boat People 2010

  1. I assume you’ve seen what’s going on in the States with immigrants? What happened to our history of our country being formed by immigrants? It’s a disgrace what they are putting Mexican people through. Look at the Statue of Liberty and all it stands for welcoming strangers to our shores. I’m not sure what’s going on but it’s not pretty.

  2. Thanks for writing this, XUP. I’ve been disturbed by some of the offensive comments I’ve read in various online discussions about this particular boatload of refugees. It astounds me how some people can be so opinionated and yet so uneducated at the same time. I place the blame squarely on the Conservative government for casting aspersions on these refugees and suggesting publicly – in so many words – that they might be terrorists and criminals. These are words chosen precisely for their ability to whip the ignorant masses into mass hysteria.

  3. This is another one of your tricksy posts that makes me think a whole lot. My best guess is that this goes back to the mice studies from the 70’s about too many mice in a small space. The mighty lions and even meerkats decide on what size population their environment can support. Maybe giant Canada is finally filling up. In the U.S. however it’s about voting districts or maybe we just have a bunch of subconscious white supremacists. It’s certainly food for thought. And I love Mexican food!

  4. Oh, this comment thread will be so predictable.

    The do-gooders will come out of the woodwork, and pat themselves on the back for pointing out that not everyone is a terrorist. And remind us that we should show compassion for this latest group of boat people.

    And anyone who says otherwise is a knuckle-dragging Stephen-Harper-voting Neanderthal.

    But folks, try to wrap your head around this one: not EVERYTHING is the fault of the conservative government.

    No, this is the fault of an immigration system that’s been broken for decades and can’t handle situations like this.

    I’m not anti-refugee or anti-immigrant. My grapndparents were refugees in WWII and immigrated to Canada. We most definitely should be compassionate to legitimate refugees.

    But, on the other hand, there should be some kind of immigration control. I mean….this boat didn’t even reach Canadian waters, and already, it’s a basic given that they’ll be allowed to enter our shores. And we don’t even know who these people are.

    Didn’t the same thing happen with another boat of Tamils ~20-25 years ago? Not to mention that boat from China about 10 years ago…where shortly afterward, a lot of refugees “disappeared” into the underground.

    This happens again and again…and we never learn.
    Right now, Canada has ~ 30,000-40,000 refugees it’s lost track of. We don’t know where theses people are.

    And I’m pretty sure among those thousands, there might be one or two that are up to no good.

    Maybe we should try to sort out THAT mess first, before we start taking in more people. Before we end up with another Ahmed Ressam.

    And then after that, let’s give priority to the legit refugees who have been waiting in camps for years for their turn to come to Canada.

  5. Linda – We are big, big rich countries. People are willing to risk everything, leave everything in order to become part of it. I would think we’d want citizens like that.

    Zoom – I don’t really know what’s going on in Sri Lanka these days, but I’m thinking if you’re willing to get on an old boat with 500 other people and drift around in the ocean for 3 months, sleeping in hammocks and risking illness, starvation and who-knows-what-else only to face jail for an indeterminate amount of time and a whole lot of uncertainty after that — well then I reckon you must have a damn good reason. If you were up to no good, you’d draw a lot less attention to yourself by just hopping on a plane and playing tourist until you find a way to vanish off the radar. I don’t know if the Conservatives are feeding into this xenophobia or not, but the initial reports of the terrorist thing came out of Sri Lanka, I understand. But ya, it’s amazing how angry and hateful people have been. Perhaps if we had more faith in our government’s ability to conduct proper screening and to keep track of refugees and to be effective in actually deporting those who are dangerous or aren’t really refugees –just people trying to cut to the front of the immigration queue….maybe people wouldn’t be so upset??

    Geewits – Thinking is good. It keeps your brain young! And Canada is far, far from full. We’re not even close to half full. I think you’re right that on some level people are afraid of the increase in non-Caucasian people in this country. They’re afraid of becoming the minority. Being a minority is really scary because suddenly you’re the “different” one. Your customs, culture and practices are not the norm. Bit by bit you have to give up everything you’re familiar with (e.g.: you’re not allowed to call Christmas, Christmas anymore…maybe soon Christmas won’t even be a holiday anymore) You can’t pronounce the names of half your co-workers. They have conversations and you can’t understand a word they’re saying. More and more often you find yourself on a bus or in a shop and yours is the only white face. Of course the irony is that we can only call this country “ours” because we showed up here in boats once upon a time and just moved in without a by-your-leave and killed anyone who objected and were just generally really rude about it.

    Woodsy – Je suis un immigré aussi.

    Friar – I totally agree that we really need to get our immigration and refugee shit together. People that are doing their best to follow the proper immigration process are getting all tied up in knots for no good reason, and other people just show up and move in and for some reason we can’t stop them. In this case we were legally obligated to allow the ship to dock before we can take any action and we have to do an investigation of each and every one of them to determine whether or not they’re legitimate refugees. I don’t have a lot of faith in our system to handle that. As you point out, they’ve let tens of thousands slip through their fingers. Australia send all their refugee claimants to Christmas Island for processing. They’ve built an 800-bed detention center there and all refugees are kept on the island until the government is satisfied that their claim is legitimate. It’s a lot more difficult to disappear on an island with a population of 1500. We have plenty of islands we could us, don’t we? That would solve part of the problem.

  6. I’m not an expert on Sri Lankan politics or anything, but based on what I do know, Tamils were (and according to them still are) heavily discriminated against in their homeland.

    If it is not safe for them there, then they should be allowed to come here. But it is a slippery slope, because many countries are experiencing war, famine, etc. and we can’t save them all on our own!

  7. Gee, if I knew it was that easy to emigrate to Canada…. 😉

    Illegal immigration is a tough political problem that needs to be addressed equitably. There are far too many people here (and in Canada) to try to send them all back to where they came. The political solution has to be to, in some way or another, assimilate them into the legal population. People don’t like the thought of immigration amnesty, but I don’t think they really perceive how difficult any other option would be.

    So far as immigrant ancestors, I’m a mutt — mine came from all over Europe. Karen’s, on the other hand, were almost all French Canadian.

  8. This has caused a whole lot of hysteria. Personally, I’m all for emigration, however, Friar makes a valid point in that there are many people going through the channels, awaiting their turn in refugee camps across the globe. Should they not be given priority? If not, doesn’t it become a matter of hopping onto a boat and bypassing the whole system?

  9. On The Current today, they had the Sri Lankan High Commissioner for an interview. I don’t know if anyone else heard it, but I thought the interviewer did a really good job at responding to questionable statements from the official, as well as questioning the record of the Sri Lankan government on human rights and press freedom.

    I agree with XUP that it is silly for people to be up in arms about these migrants. They are just the latest arrivals in a long chain. Most of those who came before we looked upon warily, to begin with, but we would be ashamed now to have not accepted them in the past.

  10. My parents came here as immigrants. They came and left their “baggage” back home. They arrived after an extended application period, paid for a trip on a boat that docked in Montreal, showed their legal documentation that they were approved for immigration.
    If it was good enough for them, I think its good enough for these people.
    Linda: I think its pathetic that so many are coming to the defense of “immigrants” in the US and in Arizona in particular.
    There is a huge number of illegals in the southern US. They are a visible minority. If a policeman pulls them over for an infraction and the reply is “No hablo Ingleses” shouldn’t they be asked about their legal status?
    It wouldn’t be so bad I guess if when immigrants arrived here they left their crap back home but we often see that their arrival here is to merely perpetuate the issues from a remove.
    The Tamil Tigers is recognised the world over as a terrorist group but in Canada fund raising was continued in an attempt to further finance the effort.
    Ceylon/SriLanka is not some hideous backwater in the Congo. I doubt that anyone here will disagree with the fact that India is a civilized country.
    Canada has an office in Columbo to process and approve immigration. If you are not found to be suitable to immigrate legally then maybe the response that jumping on a boat and attempting to arrive here illegally is not the answer?
    I’m of the opinion that if someone chooses to disregard the legal processes of immigration then they are liable to disregard many of the other laws that this country has.
    As I had stated in a previous post of XUP’s. A person willing to break the law to enter this country has no respect for the laws and traditions of this country.
    They are criminals.
    Just like a deserter from an all volunteer army.

  11. @XUP

    Not all refugees assimilate well. Depends on the culture.

    There’s one group that came here…a year later, apparently 90% of them were still on welfare. Parents wouldn’t/couldn’t learn English. In fact, there was a story in the Toronto Star, how some schools were actually teaching the KIDS to speak their native tongue. For the benefit of the refugee parents at home.

    (But I won’t get into that).

    On another note, I’ve been listening to a lot of disucssion on the radio…and the concept of an island has been brought up several times.

    We could have one in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Another one off the BC coast.

    Decent, human living accomodations, until each claim is processed.

    That would make sense.

    Another point that got brought up was why did they show up to Canada? The boat by-passed a lot of other perfectly “safe” countries on the way here.

    Could it be that some refugees are shopping around for the “best” country?

    Could it be that Canada has a reptuation of beign a bunch of suckers? And if you want to jump the queue, this is the country to do it in?

    Those are items that would merit some discussion.

  12. Jazz and Friar are both right in that these people should not be allowed to jump the line over those waiting and going through the legal immigration process.
    That being said the real solution is to fix that proces so people don’t have to wait years to get an answer about their refugee status and an overhaul of the incredibly stupid regulations that mean just for instance that my father, a plumber would not be allowed in even though there is a shortage of tradesmen.
    We have set the bar so high that few ever qualify to come to Canada legally without a profession to bring with them.
    Then some people find it reasonable to come up with $50,000 to get here somehow and after becoming established here help their families get in.
    Oh the horror, almost like my parents helping 3 families of our cousins get here during the fifties.
    And yes there will be some crooks and neer do wells. Almost like the same percentage of legal and or homegrown Canadians.

  13. Pauline – Well, we certainly do have to do something about our immigration and refugee departments. I don’t think refugees are considered legitimate just because their country is at war or experiencing a famine or natural disaster. We just send aid and relief in those cases. Refugees have to be able to prove that they’ll be murdered or otherwise seriously mistreated back home in order for us to take them in. Too bad we don’t seem to have any effective mechanism in place to do the sorting, deporting and follow-up.

    Mike – Absolutely, this is not an easy thing. We obviously can’t just throw our borders wide open, but we also can’t just turn away people without thoroughly investigating their claims. Unfortunately we don’t seem to be too good at the investigation part and end up basically throwing our borders wide open.

    Jazz – Again, our system is in BIG trouble. And we’re going to be in even bigger trouble if we don’t fix it really, really soon.

    Milan – I’m sorry I missed that program. I should be able to catch it online later. One good thing that might come out of all this hysteria is that Immigration Canada might actually have to get their act together finally.

    Lebowski – Immigration and asylum seeking are two very different things. The first is a decision you make to try life in another country for whatever reason. The second is having to flee your own country or risk being tortured or murdered or something equally horrible. At least that’s what refugeeism is supposed to be. You can’t compare the two. Whether or not these new boat people are legitimate refugees remains to be seen. Likewise, I assume it will be determined if these people actually are part of a terrorist group or if they’re actually fleeing from a terrorist group. Would you have turned back that boatload of Jews back in 1939, too, because they didn’t follow the prescribed immigration procedures?

    Friar – Yes, I’ve read that the boat was originally destined for Australia which is a lot closer, but then they decided to keep going on to Canada. That raised a few questions for me. We certainly do have a reputation of being really stupid about letting people in and obviously thousands have already taken advantage of that. And yes, not all refugees or even all immigrants assimilate well. Some still think that killing their women if they don’t behave is okay. Perhaps this is a perfect occasion to do a major overhaul of our immigration/refugee system, policies and procedures??

    Dave1949 – Hey! You’re up and conscious. Way cool. Like I said to Lebowski though, immigration and refugeeism are completely different things. There’s a difference between wanting to get out of your country and having to get out. But yes, they’ve jumped the queue even for refugeeism, but we’re not legally allowed to refuse to let them dock, so we have to deal with the situation as it stands. If we had an effective mechanism to do so, I wouldn’t be worried.

  14. @XUP

    Here’s what I would like to see:

    Some kind of TRUE/FALSE quiz. Where applicants are hooked up to a lie detector machine so they cant’ cheat.


    1. It’s perfectly okay to kill your teenage daughter if she dresses like a skank and doesn’t listen to you.

    2. Proper punishment for someone who steals is to have their hands cut off.

    3. Female circumcision is necessary, and it should be covered by OHIP.

    4. It’s okay to kill someone if they write a book that criticizes your religous beliefs.

    5. Woman accused of adultery are whores, and should be hanged or stoned.

    6. Children are a convenient source of slave labor.

    7. Children are a convenient source of young soldiers.

    8. Homosexuality is an abomination, and those practicing it should be punished.

    9. Osama Bin Laden is a hero. I hope he wins.

    10. People who disagree with the government should be locked up, and they throw away the key.


    If you answer “True” to any one of these questions, then BACK TO THE END OF THE LINE!

    And don’t come back until you’ve left the 13th Century behind, and joined the rest of the civilized world.

  15. My guess is many people in your fine country don’t want them because they have brown skin and don’t come from Europe. Sadly, racism is everywhere.

  16. Dr. Monkey

    So let me get this straight.

    Without knowing all the facts or statistics, according to you, this is all the white people’s fault. Because they don’t like brown-skinned non-Europeans.

    I dunno. Seems to me that comment itself is racist.

    Works both ways, you know.

  17. Interesting that Dr. Monkey plays the race card.
    Has nothing to do with Racism. If someone feels that they have the right to “jump the queue” then they’ll make whatever emotional argument they want. There’s no reply to that!
    Let’s everyone take a history lesson on the events in Sri Lanka… Once you’ve done that then maybe you will make an INTELLIGENT and RATIONAL decision?
    Saying that “You don’t want them here because they are brown” is a load of bullshit. Brown, yellow, white, green or red, if you want to live in Canada – abide by the system in place.
    Actually – if you are green I want you to stay the fuck out.

  18. It looks like Dr. Monkey needs to go for a walk in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa or any other major city in this country before writing such an idiotic, racist comment.

    As Friar said… It works both ways.

  19. Friar – I guess it’s probably better than whatever they have in place now.

    Dr. Monkey – Not to say Canada doesn’t harbour racists just like everywhere else, but I don’t think this is so much about racism because I don’t even think it’s about these particular people. I think it’s more about frustration with our immigration department who doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing. It has “lost” tens of thousands of illegal and possibly dangerous refugees who are under a deportation warrant and they don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. People just keep slipping in under the radar and it’s not fair to the people who are legitimate citizens here and it’s not fair to people who are legitimately trying to gain refugee status here or are legitimately trying to immigrate. There seem to be no benefits to being a law abiding person when it comes to our immigration department. I think this is what’s making people so angry.

    Friar, Lebowski & Mr. G – I’ll let Dr. Monkey answer you himself.

  20. I’m the racist for pointing out possible racism. That makes as much sense as saying that the person who reports a murder is responsible for it.

    I apologize for making you folks so angry, I forgot that Canada is a magical land where equality reigns and there is no such thing as racism and all the motives of each and every white citizen are pure and virtuous. And I am doubly sorry for assuming that since you already have black and brown people in your fairy tale kingdom that that means there is no such thing as racism. It seems I forgot that racism only exists in the south in the USA.

    I thank you folks for teaching me more about your most wondrous homeland. One day when we in the USA become as evolved as you are, maybe then North America will be the paradise that it’s supposed to be. Until that day however, I’ll keep speaking my mind and making sanctimonious people angry.

  21. In essence I agree with your points, but I cannot help but be concerned for those potential immigrants who go through the legimate processes (such as they are) and are forced to wait forever.

  22. @Dr. Monkey

    You made a comment, implying that uproar over the boat people is mainly due to white people.

    Thereby generalizing and stereotyping a large part of the population, based soley on skin color.

    And now you’re all facetious and giving us flack, because some of us had the nerve to call you on it.

    Gee, I apologize.

    I should have realized, it’s only racist if you generalize and stereotype against against dark-skinned people.

    By all means, please continue to bash white Canadians.

  23. I just see humans, not foreigners. Rich nations exploit poorer parts of the world and refuse to share the benefits of technology and industrialization. Then they act scandalized when the poor want to gamble everything on the chance of a better life in Gringoland. If we were not collectively and individually selfish we would not create these ‘enemies’ we have to guard against with immigration-quotas and such. There is enough of everything on this planet for everyone.

    Usually in any moral panic there is a foundation of shared assumption that the public ‘debate’ (shouting-match) just rests on top of. You can try to point out these shared assumptions, but they are too deeply rooted and let us not forget, whole way of lives and egos rest upon these foundations, not just arguments.

    If we don’t belive that we can be less selfish in general, I don’t see the point in bickering about specific evils – we will just displace our greed and violence from one place to another, like trying to mop grease with a piece of cellophane.

    Really, I see this as no different in substance from the biggest oldest sibling crying when the smaller ones steal back some of the sweets he stole from them in the first place – there are no good guys as such, but the biggest one, though he cries the loudest, has the least to cry about.

  24. Oh, my gosh! I’ve had this dream in the back of my head that I could always escape to Canada, should the paranoid, narrow minded take over in the US. Shucks!

    Have these people not studied history. Most of us are immigrants from a distant land. Most of us work hard and add to the culture.

    I just want to know, in the US/Mexico issue, who the heck drew the imaginary line in the playbox sand that designated you live on the north side and can get a job and you live on the south side and should not have enough to eat?

    Am I being too simplistic? I just don’t believe I am any better than anyone else. And, I belive that EVERYONE has the right to a job, housing, food and medical care.

  25. Dr. Monkey – you made a claim that is surely not based on any truth.
    Did you know that there are over 200,000 Tamils in Toronto alone? Do you think that they all got here – 500 at a time on boats?
    Does THAT sound like we are racists?
    Playing the race card is racist.
    It says “All you goddammed rich white middle class crackers are racists because you want to keep down the brown man.”
    I challenge you to point out ANYWHERE in this blog where someone made an argument based on race.
    @”G” – Richard Feynman once made an very interesting comment on poverty throughout the world. The west is rich because we found uses for stuff. We didn’t steal it.
    Like the wheel.
    We didn’t TAKE or STEAL the wheel from anyone else.
    The wheel is the first and most important step in wealth creation.
    Oil that we drill for and PAY for helps finance improvements to the country that we buy it from. Is Shell or Exxon to blame that the money that they pay is then distributed only amongst a small group of bureaucrats in country “X”?
    But no where can anyone claim that we stole it or kept the “brown man down”. Oil in the middle east is a meaningless brown liquid is a useless disgusting fluid without the technology that MADE it valuable. And what have the enlightened in those countries done with their new found wealth? Burj Dubai.
    But back to the Tamils and Dr. Monkey.
    Your portrayal of any dissenting opinion from yours as being racist is the most vile form of attempted censorship that exists. And thats what it is – an attempt at censoring dissenting opinions.
    By presenting MY opinion as being racist without even accepting that it has any validity is close minded and racist in of itself. Dismissing it as being “racist” without attempting to refute the validity of my arguments is reeks of another opinion crushing argument that once was used- “We will not study that. Its JEW physics”

  26. @savanvleck: I agree with you, for the most part–everyone *does* have the right to medical care. What they don’t have is the right to decide they can somehow aford to pay $50k to cut in line ahead of someone who genuinely needs it. You want to come to Canada? You get in line like everyone else. If we don’t have an embasy in your country, we’ve probably got one in a neighbouring country. Go there, fill out the paperwork, and wait your turn like the honest, law-abiding person you’d like us to believe you are. You don’t go through official/legal channels, you’re not an official/legal immigrant. Which makes you illegal–or, put more politically correctly, undocumented.

    Also: please explain what immigration has to do with the job market in another country? The only people who decided anyone living on the south side of the border was pretty much screwed were the people living on the south side of the border. That’d be like me blaming the US because Canada’s unemployment rate is on the rise–sadly, a much too common default reaction if you ask me.

  27. James, Lebowski, surely a cursory glance at history shows you that nations beat each other down in order to get ahead. They do this militarily, economically, and through other means. If they worked together everyone would be a winner, but for human beings winning isn’t winning unless someone else loses: it doesn’t need to be a zero-sum game, but it is, despite what optimists like Feynman might say.

  28. I’m with Lebowski. I’m sick and tired of the West being solely blamed for problems in the Third World, because we’ve “stolen” their riches from the third world.

    Yes, the West is not perfect and we’ve done bad things to other countries.

    But maybe…MAYBE one of the contributing factors to our wealth, is that democracies allow more opportunity for freedom and education and commerce. Which leads to overall prosperity for everyone.

    And MAYBE some of those other countries are shitholes, not because we’ve stolen from them, but because they’re severely mis-mananged.

    Democracy is far from a perfect system. But at least it’s a sight better than communism, tribal dictatorships, or medieval theocracies where half the population is basically enslaved and subjugated.

    But of course, we’re not supposed to interfere with those places, either. Because “who are we to judge” that our system is better than those other cultures?

    (Or so I gathered on one of the previous posts here).

    So, regardless, it’s all our fault. Okay, I admit it. We’re bad.

  29. “G” – the rise of the west as a modern economic power had NOTHING to do with the exploitation of other countries.
    The growth of the worlds great universities did not come at the expense of others! Thats like saying that the only way that I can become smarter is by making someone else STUPIDER!
    The West exploited their own resources FIRST and the 3rd world can benefit as well from it by selling their resources to the West (Or China). Countries surrounding the Persian Gulf for example that choose to buy Gold plated Bugatti Veyrons instead of choosing to reinvest into their own societies are not my responsibility. An agreement was made with them for a given product that they can supply and we paid for it either in cash or goods. How they choose to distribute those goods is an internal problem.
    A Tamil who is a “refugee” because they fought a losing battle against the government of record is also not my problem. In the end while they are making the argument that they are political refugees – you here are arguing that they are ECONOMIC refugees. Who seem to some how be able to scrape up 50,000 dollars each to get here… hmmmm. Or do you think that maybe….just maybe… they were financed by the generous donations of the Tamil Tigers? HMMMMM.

  30. @G: I’ll ask you the same question, then. What does immigration, legal or otherwise, to somewhere like the US have to do with those in somewhere like Mexico being disadvantaged? How is it the fault of the US, or anyone else, that Mexico’s got more criminals than legitimate employers and/or viable employment opportunities?

  31. Oh, okay, the west is great and foreigners are inexplicably lazy and stupid. If those Mexicans would just stop drinking and whoring they might become the happy, attractive creatures that we are. If everyone was like us the world would be great. Capitalism, though based on selfish individualism, mysteriously produces the greatest possible collective good. The fact that countries that once had prosperous empires before Europeans ruined them – that was a long time ago, and it’s all water under the bridge; no point in moping about the past except when someone does something bad to us.

  32. @G: I don’t recall myself or anyone else on this thread saying that. Though, as far as non-answer answers go that’s a good one.

  33. It never ceases to amaze me, the double-standard that the self-loathing PC Left always brings up.

    As predicted, some of us are so quick to point out everything that Western Culture has done wrong.

    Yet these same people will conveniently turn a blind eye towards any transgressions or human right abuses any thirld-world countries have done.

    Because apparenlty, they’re not responsible for their actions. But we are.

    Like I said earlier: it’s all OUR fault.

  34. Mrwriteon – True, but we have to distinguish between immigrants and refugees. I don’t know if these people are legitimate refugees or not. If they are we can’t send them away. If they’re not we have to.

    G – I don’t blame them at all for trying to grab a piece of the pie. That’s pretty much what our western society is all about, isn’t it? Grab what you can? And despite all the crying about economic crises, we’re still waaaay better of than most of the rest of the world and have something of a moral obligation to help those less fortunate – just like each of us has a moral obligation individually to help those less fortunate. But we can’t help everyone and we can just help people based on who is the most aggressive in trying to get our help. There has to be some sort of common sense involved in both situations.

    Savanvleck – As individuals we are no less perfect than Americans. We have a few advantages as a nation, that’s all. And you’re right, everyone is entitled to the basics of life, but I’m afraid it is simplistic to think that. There is always so much more involved. The whole refugee/immigration thing – not just in Canada – is a mess.

    James – Are we getting into the 2-tiered medical system debate here? Because I don’t see a problem at all with someone who has the money paying for their medical care elsewhere and freeing up space in the queue for the people who can’t afford to do that. As for the immigration question – people don’t seem to understand that there’s a big difference between refugees and immigrants. Refugees are fleeing a country where they’ll be murdered if they stay – because of their religious beliefs or politics or whatever. They can’t go to an embassy and wait for their papers; they’ll get killed. There are countries in the world that are in hell because of the terrorists and crazy people running them. People are willing to risk all sorts of stuff by floating around the ocean for 3 months just to get away from their crazy hell country. That’s got nothing whatsoever to do with immigration.

    G, Friar, Lebowski – An interesting discussion. Feel free to continue duking it out.

  35. I do want to add, however, that it seems that these 500 Sri Lankans have become symbols of something much, much bigger than they. The poor/rich nation debate, the history of western civilization, the exploitation of the have-nots by the haves, the insane politics of some countries over the excesses of others – those are all excellent debates and, I think, issues that are behind much of the hostility toward these 500 Sri Lankans. But, as I think G implied, these are just 500 human beings – not symbols of anything. They might very well be poor, oppressed, desperate people who need our help and, if so, we should help them – simply because that’s what human beings do and because we are able to. On the other hand, they might be conmen and terrorists who are just the envoy leading the way for more shiploads of the same. I don’t know. I sure as hell hope that between several levels of government and various national and international police departments we can figure out the right answer and do the right thing.

  36. @Xup: I’m not even touching the two-tiered healthcare system debate except to say I agree with you. It’s not even about jumping *that* queue, per say.

    G said everyone has a right to basic medical care, which I agree with. But these people who are claiming to be refugees more than likely didn’t need to cough up $50k to get passage on a ship–particularly a ship heading somewhere like Canada when there are closer destinations for them to go–in order to get it. The $50k didn’t put them ahead in the healthcare queue, per say, but rather the immigration/refugee queue. And really, end of the day it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference whether these people are immigrants or refugees–we have a crap ton of embasies in a crap ton of countries for a reason. You want to immigrate to Canada, go there first. You want to apply for refugee status in Canada, if you can get aboard a ship bound illegally for Canada’s coastline, you can probably get to somewhere–possibly in a neighbouring country if you absolutely have to–to apply for status there. Why don’t they? Because the law escentially says all they have to do is show up.

  37. What the hell? Don’t our Coast Guard have torpedoes?
    Because there should have been a ship full of Terrorists in Davey Jones locker last week. Instead, I am feeding them steak dinner. WTF ! I thought I’d elected Conservatives, not ass-wiping Liberals. 😦

  38. I just want to get a fair system in place. Let’s decide how many immigration claims we will take in one year and how many refugee claims and get a good system in place to actually keep track of it all. The system right now is really kind of pathetic in this day and age … running on paper piles of faxes and no digital documentation system in place so that an applicant can see where they are in the line.

  39. John – All righty then. Thanks for your input.

    Julie – It’s completely insane. We can’t blame people for trying to get in whichever way works for them. But we should call our government departments to task for doing this all half-assed.

  40. We can’t blame them for trying, you’re right. But we can remove them for not doing it right–which is what apparently a growing number of people would like to see done. I have a link somewhere on it…

  41. @Lebowski

    Heh. You and I read the same paper.

    Too bad this story didn’t come out a few days earlier. I’d love to have shown this to all the bleeding-heart apologists out there, who say we’re mean and cruel for wanting to send those people back home.

    When if fact, many of these people DO go home! For vacations, no less!

    How do you explain THIS…people?

  42. Yes Friar us “knuckle draggers” tend to read the same stuff.
    Personally I also read the Toronto Star. And Mark Steyn.

  43. But if you show this story to the granola-crunchers, they’ll find a way to justify the bogus refugee claims, and somehow still make it OUR fault.

    We knuckle-draggers will never win these type of arguments using facts and statistics.

    In a way, I’m relieved this debate is over on this blog. My blood pressure couldn’t handle it.

  44. Lebowski/Friar – I’ve been reading these stories, too. And I never doubted for a moment that there are bogus refugees in this country. The fact that people go back to their countries for vacations isn’t definitive though. Political situations change over time – maybe their home country is safe again; maybe they were bogus refugees to begin with. None of this automatically means every refugee is bogus. I was just saying we should wait until all the facts are in about these current refugees before vilifying them. And to take each individual person wanting asylum or wanting to immigrate on their own merits (or lack thereof) instead of lumping everyone into an undesireable category right off the bat. That’s all. I DO want some stricter controls and more effective policies and measures over people who shouldn’t be here, too.