There has been some surprise expressed at the tweaks announced today to Jason Kenney's human smuggling legislation. Are the Harper Tories getting all soft and persuadable?
The government line is that the amendments are:
...a response by the government to the concerns raised by several individuals, including the opposition parties.
However, there is at least one person who would not be surprised at today's changes. His name is Balan Ratnarajah, and he is head of a rather mysterious organization known as the Peel Tamil Community Centre. In early 2011 he wrote a letter in support of an earlier version of this legislation (at the time called C-49), and when asked, replied:
...he has been assured that the troubling elements on refugees will never see the light of day.
“Eventually I think that’s not going to be there. That’s what we were told,” he said.
Balan expanded a bit more on this in an interview with Tamil radio:
“This supportive letter created a controversial atmosphere in the community that we are working closely with the government of Canada. We are not working closely with them and we are only focusing on those 8,000 people who fled and temporarily reside in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.”
“Due to our efforts the Minister had taken necessary measures and addressed in the Parliament saying that Canada will take-up this matter and work along with Australia, Thailand and Indonesia. Thank. Thorough our cordial relationship we have brought the government of Canada to pay more attention on this issue."
“We have no intention of blocking future arrivals of those refugees to Canada and in fact we want to extend our helping hands to them. There is a kind of fear that hearing of these refugees, who arrive after March 2010, will be dealt differently by the government. We have discussed this issue with the government and it was a fruitful discussions but I don’t want to reveal the outcome to the public now.”
So the notion that these particularly controversial amendments were simply "boob bait for bubba" (the Tory core) that were never intended to be in the final bill has always been a possibility, and one that seems more likely after today's announcements.