The Canadian Ministry of Defence says it is
prepared to intercept a migrant ship, carrying about
200 suspected Sri Lankan asylum seekers, due to
arrive on B.C.’s coast during the next few weeks.
“We’ve been tracking this vessel for some time,”
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said. “We’ll have
ships in Canadian waters as they approach, and then
an assessment will be done, with information we
currently hold and anything we could garner from
direct contact.” Health Canada will also be prepared
to deal with any passengers who are sick after
potentially spending months at sea, MacKay added.
Few details about the ship and its passengers have
been revealed, though reports suggest it carries
men, women and children from Sri Lanka.
Earlier this month, a Sri Lankan newspaper warned
that a vessel known as the MV Sun Sea had departed
carrying several members of the Tamil Tigers, a
group banned in Canada as a terrorist organisation.
Immigration lawyer Doug Cannon said if the migrants
are Sri Lankan, many will likely seek asylum as
refugees. “If you are perceived by security forces
in Sri Lanka as being a past or current problem to
the Government, you can expect to be treated very
poorly,” he said. “They’re afraid of being jailed,
tortured and presumed guilty instead of presumed
The war between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil
rebels, which lasted 26 years, ended last May.
Cannon represented many of the 76 Sri Lankan men who
arrived in B.C. last October aboard the Ocean Lady
vessel. They were arrested by the Canadian Border
Services Agency, detained for three months, and
released after investigators determined they had no
ties to terrorism.
“They are all doing exactly what they should,
following their terms and conditions,” he said. “No
one has disappeared and they are all in the refugee