The right-wing minority government of Stephen Harper has just introduced Bill C-49.
The “Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act ” that, among other things, allows the minister of public safety to declare any group of migrants coming in to Canada, a ‘smuggling incident.’
Once deemed a smuggling incident, the refugee claimants can be jailed for at least a year, with no access to health coverage. Their incarceration may be extended, with reviews only possible once in six months. If these asylum seekers gain refugee status, the minister of immigration can choose to revoke their status at any point in the next five years. At the end of the five years, the government wants to be able to assess the conditions in the “home country” and determine their safety, and if found to be safe the refugees can be deported. During these five years, the claimants are not allowed to apply for permanent residence or to sponsor their families. Those whose claims are denied have no recourse to appeal. Those found to be a “human smuggler,” defined as someone who “knows or is reckless as to whether an asylum seeker has broken the law” can be jailed for 10 years.