1. Don’t panic!
Take a deep breath.
2. Remember that there is a process in place to deal with this issue.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada:
The Canadian refugee system has two main parts:
- the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, for people seeking protection from outside Canada; and
- the In-Canada Asylum Program for people making refugee protection claims from within Canada.
If you can see the boat full of people from your house, that means they will likely be processed under the In-Canada Asylum Program. To calm your fears, Citizenship and Immigration Canada further explains that:
Refugees come from around the world and many make their claims in Canada….The asylum program works to provide refugee protection to people in Canada who are at risk of torture, or cruel or unusual punishment in their home countries.
Not everyone is eligible to seek asylum. For example, people convicted of serious criminal offences and people who have had previous refugee claims denied by Canada are not accepted.
3. Don’t kill asylum seekers.
Even if you are still alarmed after reading about Canada’s refugee process, don’t kill these strange newcomers, regardless of what the Toronto Sun helpfully suggests. Killing asylum seekers is a violation of their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
If you look carefully at your copy of the Charter, you’ll notice that some rights are only for Canadian citizens (like the right to vote, article 3) and some rights are for “everyone” (like the right to life, liberty and security of the person, article 7).
Do asylum seekers and refugee claimants who arrive in Canada on a leaky boat count as “everyone” under Canadian law? The Supreme Court of Canada answered this very question in their April 4, 1985 decision in Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration. According to the Supreme Court, foreign nationals in Canada have Charter rights, so killing them would be illegal.