Updated 16 hours ago
Send them home and use the navy if necessary is the message coming from a new poll on the Tamil boat people issue.
By a margin of 5 to 1 Canadians say the government should reject the almost 500 would-be refugees from Sri Lanka
that arrived last week. The Leger Marketing poll of 1,500 people, released exclusively to QMI Agency, was conducted from Aug. 2 to 4 as the ship travelled towards the British Columbia coast.
Asked which statement best described their own opinion on what should be done with the ship, which may include members of the banned Tamil Tiger terrorist group, 60% agreed with the statement, ` ey should be turned away -- the boat should be escorted back to Sri Lanka by the Canadian Navy.`
Just 17% agreed with the statement, `They should be accepted into Canada
as political refugees.`
A significant number, 20%, said they did not know which answer to choose and 4% did not answer.
Alberta ranked highest with 74% of respondents there saying send the boat back and just 11% saying let them stay, while Quebec was the second highest with 64% opting to send the boat back and 15% saying the passengers should stay.
`That`s a very high number,` said Leger pollster David Scholz. He said the number is likely high for a number of factors, including concerns about who arrived on the boat, including possible Tamil Tiger terrorists, and whether other boats will follow.
`There is that worry that this is potentially people coming in, not just jumping the queue, but coming in and falsely representing where they are come from,` said Scholz. `We don`t often hear about other refugee claims that are done on an individual or family basis but when we see lots of them at the same time we tend to get a little nervous.`
Martin Collacott was Canada`s highest ranking diplomat in Sri Lanka during the period when the civil war launched by the Tamil Tigers started in the early 1980s. Collacott said we can`t just turn the boat back.
`We need to follow the process that takes the ones that are legitimate refugees and return the others,` Collacott said. How many are legitimate refugees is up for debate said Collacott, who noted that the MV Sun Sea came not directly from Sri Lanka but from ailand where the passengers were safe from any possible persecution from the Sri Lankan government.
As for what he takes away from the fact that the majority of Canadians don`t want the government to let the would-be refugees stay, Collacott pins the blame on a battered immigration system.
`I think it shows Canadians feel they are being taken advantage of,` said Collacott. The Canadian Tamil Congress believes the poll results are a reflection on feelings towards the immigration system, not Tamils themselves. `I think there is a growing frustration,` said spokesman Manjula Selvarajah.