Also unconfirmed is the ship's origin but Sri Lanka is the safe bet. Australia has seen its share of decrepit boats carrying illegal migrants to the county's shores and recently a boat carrying 260 Tamils from Sri Lanka was intercepted by Indonesia at Australia's request. You can read about it here.
The migrants being held in Indonesia were destined for Australia. The boat intercepted off the coast of B.C. is likely part of the same smuggling ring. The boat didn't get lost. The men aboard the ship admitted in interviews that their destination was Canada. So all in all, what we are looking at are Sri Lankan Tamils seeking to enter Canada illegally to make an asylum claim.
The fact that all of the migrants on board are men tells us that this is most likely a ploy to game the refugee system to get family and friends into the country. The successful asylum claim opens the door to seemingly endless chain migration where whole families have been transported to Canada out of one immigration application. The problem with this is that these immigrants do not need any pertinent job skills or language skills to immigrate to Canada. It is likely the 76 men on the Ocean Laddy do not have either as well.
Below is a quote made by a spokesperson for the Sri Lankan Tamils being held in Indonesia and reported by Australia's ABC news.
"Ask yourselves one question, if you had no home to go to, if you had no country to live in, if you had no place to go, if you had no country of your own - what would you do and how long would you stay in a boat before you were promised to enter a country that will give you asylum?" Alex said.
"How long will you go? How desperate will you be? Take a look at the picture today, look at my people, we're not only suffering back home, we're suffering here.
"We have no choice, we have no country to go back to, we cannot go back to Sri Lanka."
That statement is self serving. They are fishing for sympathy to gain quick and easy access to a wealthy western industrialized country like Australia or Canada without having to go through proper immigration channels which can be lengthy, costly, and no guarantee of success. The ABC report says that Australia was not their first choice. They say they chose Australia because it was the "cheapest and easiest place to get to, even if it means living in a Malaysian jungle for a month." Really? Cheaper and easier to get to then, say, Tamil Nadu?
Tamil Nadu is India's most southern state with a population of over 66 million people. Tamil is its official language, spoken by almost 90% of the population. Tamil Nadu is culturally, linguistically, and ethnically Tamil. It is also literally located across the street from Sri Lanka. So why spend a month in a Malaysian jungle to get to Australia when you can find safety in Tamil Nadu in less than a week?
India prides itself as being the largest democracy in the world. It's economy is growing with an emerging middle class. It may not be a super power (yet?) but it is a regional power and India is better placed than any other nation to accommodate Sri Lankan Tamils fleeing alleged persecution in Sri Lanka. So why are there more Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada than in India?
These people are not fleeing persecution. Their treatment in Sri Lanka is often over exaggerated. What persecuted people are allowed to have political parties hold seats in government or obtain passports to travel abroad? What persecuted people have official government documents printed in their native language? They may be fleeing poverty but that in of itself is not grounds for asylum. They want to immigrate but lack the attributes that will allow them to. Asylum seekers need nothing more than a good persecution story and a gullible ear. Sri Lanka's Tamils are not union members in Colombia.
Canada cannot allow any of the 76 men to successfully land as a refugee. They should be fed and given a health check then promptly returned to their country of origin. Rewarding this behaviour will encourage more of it. That's why there are over 250,000 Sri Lankan Tamils in Canada. Besides, how many LTTE members hiding among them? The LTTE have successfully set up a fund raising operation in Canada thanks to an abusable refugee system. Do we Canadians like being the land of trusting fools?
Here is the Toronto Star report on it.
To read why I think it was a mistake for Canada to accept so many Sri Lankan Tamil refugees read here.