Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Minister Defends Controversial TV Show, Says Illegal Immigrants Take Advantage

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Minister Defends Controversial TV Show, Says Illegal Immigrants Take Advantage

Article excerpt

Minister says illegal immigrants opportunist


VANCOUVER - Illegal immigrants take advantage of Canadian taxpayers -- not the other way around, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told critics in Parliament as he defended the use of reality TV cameras on immigrant raids.

The federal government is facing criticism on several fronts for its approval of the TV show focusing on border security after camera crews filmed the arrest of several men in Vancouver last week by officers with Canada Border Services Agency.

But Toews isn't backing away from the plan.

"It is important to remember that illegal immigrants cost law-abiding Canadian taxpayers tens of millions of dollars per year and it costs our constituents thousands of jobs," said Toews.

"We expect the CBSA to enforce Canada's immigration laws by removing individuals who take advantage of Canada's generous immigration system by jumping the queue."

Federal access to information documents show that Toews approved a demo reel by Force Four Entertainment and also allowed Canada Border Services Agency to enter into talks for a full series of programs for broadcast in Canada.

The documents were requested by Helesia Luke, a communications worker who wanted to know more she heard about the raids.

Luke, who's familiar with production company contracts after working in the entertainment industry, said the 11-page contract seemed short.

Luke said she's asked for more information because she believes other documents might clarify the kind of message the CBSA is trying convey with the program.

"Do they really want to send a message that people arriving at the border are going to be ambushed by a camera crew because they didn't know they weren't supposed to bring apples across the border?"

During question period Monday, NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said Canadians across the country are shocked about the government's approval of the idea, adding the raids aren't some episode of "Cops."

"These are real people and real officers doing a dangerous job," said Garrison, who called the show a "dangerous and reckless PR stunt."

"Filming is exploitative and can put individuals in danger. …

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