Americans gripped by immigration and ethnicity issues should glance for perspective at the large print on the base of the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor ... Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me ... Canadians with similar anxieties about immigrants and refugees -- categories that were often historically identical -- should think about Samuel de Champlain, who founded our country in the early 1600s.
Whatever else happens, the MV Sun Sea shall be remembered as having posed a security, immigration and moral dilemma for Canada, depending on who you speak to.
A Thai registered cargo ship, the MV Sun Sea had approximately 500 potential claimants for refugee status, all of whom are of Tamil origin. It originated in Sri Lanka and was denied permission to dock by Thailand and Australia.
The ship arrived in Canadian waters Friday and was intercepted by armed Canadian military and the RCMP. After health and security officials boarded the ship in Victoria, B.C., the passengers were given medical check-ups; most have been moved to detention centres in the Vancouver area while their refugee claims are being processed. Hearings are due to begin today.