Me being me, this post from yesterday morning on the Federal Government's new legislation to combat human smuggling was a bit flippant. Trust the Galloping Beaver to finger some of the real issues with the proposed law:
...say for example you're a member of the Karen ethnic group living in Mah Sot refugee camp, Thailand. You cannot go back to Burma because the disgusting bunch of military fetishists running the show over routinely send the army after you and friends. You are effectively stateless and cannot claim citizenship in Burma or Thailand because neither country really wants much to do with you. Canada comes along and grants you refugee status and you come here to live, leaving many of your family and friends behind. When you are processed and formally recognised as a refugee by Canada, you are granted permanent residency.
After a number of years, you can apply citizenship and thus a Canadian passport. However, before that you can do that you may apply for a Travel Document because you can't actually get a passport from your home country, or the country you fled to. This travel document legally protects you because it says to foreign governments 'I'm now under the protection of Canada, do not mess with me'. If you want to travel to see family and friends still stuck eating sandy rice in a dusty camp, this travel document allows that to happen. You are free now, and can live, play and travel with more security than you've ever had in your life.
What the Conservatives now want to do it seems is take that security away and punish refugee claimants for being refugee claimants. While your claim is being processed, they want you to effectively remain a prisoner within Canada. Don't go home, don't visit your dying mother, don't got back to celebrate the wedding of your sister. Not only that, but the Conservatives also seem to want to be able to revoke your claim should you ever leave the country.
I'd also make note of this bit of commentary from the Vancouver Sun:
David Poopalapillai, spokesman for the Canadian Tamil Congress, said he was particularly troubled with the provision that prevents those smuggled into the country from sponsoring family members for five years. "Once you become a landed immigrant, you've been accepted as a legitimate refugee claimant," he said. "You say to them you can't sponsor your spouse or your kids? That's inhuman. You want the family to suffer and suffer? It's not the Canadian way of doing business."
The opposition parties have promised to give the new legislation a "good, long look", and hopefully they will do that. Some aspects of it--targeting the owners of ships like the MV Sun Sea--appear salvageable, as they are aimed at the criminal activity that drives human smugglers, and not the actual smuggled refugees. Given how the committee process works in a minority parliament, there's no doubt that some kind of bill can emerge from said process that may actually do some good. The opposition parties should rework the proposed legislation so it becomes that bill, give it back to the government, and see if they'll sign.