DELTA, British Columbia, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Two Canadian officials used an immigrant smuggling ship as a backdrop to announce proposed legislation Thursday to crack down on human trafficking.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the law would both punish traffickers and deter those who want to immigrate from using them, Postmedia News reported. They released the details at a news conference in Delta, British Columbia, in front of the hulk of the Ocean Lady, which carried 76 Tamils from Sri Lanka last year.
The most controversial part of the law would allow the Department of Public Safety to declare immigrants suspected of dealing with traffickers "irregular." They could be detained for up to one year, would have limited health benefits and be barred from sponsoring relatives for five.
"We know that jumping the immigration queue is fundamentally unfair to those who follow the rules and wait their turn to come to Canada," Toews said.
The bill would also set a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years for those convicted of human smuggling.
The Harper government plans to open parliamentary debate Wednesday. Opponents were already speaking out.
Olivia Chow, a member of Parliament from the New Democratic Party, described the proposals as "draconian." She also said the measure would give too much power to the Public Safety minister.