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Kenney to learn about human smuggling in Australia

September 20, 2010

OTTAWA РCanada’s immigration minister is travelling to Australia to see what can be learned about dealing with boatloads of illegal immigrants and refugee claimants.

Jason Kenney is currently on a 10-day trip through India, China and the Philippines to deal with the issue of overseas immigration fraud.

On a conference call with reporters on Thursday he announced that he would add a trip to the Australian capital of Canberra.

In addition to meeting with Australian officials, Kenney will also tour a detention centre for passengers on migrant boats.

Australia adopted a policy of processing these boats on remote Pacific islands back in 2001, a year that saw more than 5,000 people arrive by sea claiming refugee status.

The policy was discontinued in 2007 but brought back after more than 60 boats landed in 2009. The issue was a major factor in the Australian election last month that saw the Labour Party lose several seats and only hang onto power with the help of independents.

In addition to visiting Australia, Kenney announced that former CSIS director Ward Elcock has been asked to review the human smuggling situation.

The former spymaster will travel to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Australia to see what can be done to prevent more boats from heading to Canada.

Officials at the foreign affairs department say they are already working with other countries to prevent a repeat of the MV Sun Sea, which carried about 500 Tamil asylum seekers when it arrived in British Columbia last month.

The government acknowledges that more boats are likely but will not confirm rumours regarding how many. Estimates range from one ship to five heading to Canada over the next few months.