Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says Canada can learn from Australia's experience in dealing with migrant ships, but shouldn't aim to duplicate its controversial practices.
Mr. Kenney was in Manila on Thursday, and is heading to Australia on Friday on a fact-finding mission to help shape Ottawa's promised crackdown on ships full of asylum-seekers arriving on Canada's shores.
He said he hopes to learn from Australia's ups and downs in confronting human smuggling, rather than emulate its policies.
Australia detains illegal migrants who arrive by sea, at times keeping them on remote islands and then sending them to other countries before they can have a refugee hearing.
But the practice has not been much of a deterrent, and both main parties in Australia's recent election campaign promised to look for better solutions.
The Conservatives plan to kick off the fall session of Parliament with a new package of rules for migrants aimed at preventing more shiploads from targeting Canada.
"I'm not saying Australia has some kind of a perfect remedy for Canada to emulate,"Mr. Kenney told reporters in a conference call from Manila.
"I am saying, though, that they have a lot of practical and applied experience with the situation and there may be ways in which we can co-operate with Australia in addressing the issue."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper told his cabinet to find ways to make sure there would be no repeats of the August arrival of almost 500 Tamils in Canadian waters off the coast of British Columbia - the second ship in less than a year.
The government's marine migrant package will include a range of measures, but the Tories will not need to invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to enforce them, Mr. Kenney has said.
Canada also needs to work with other countries to cut the migrant ships off at the source, Mr. Kenney said.
"A close study of the Aussie experience would certainly be useful to us in framing our own response."
Mr. Kenney's critics say Canada already has the tools it needs to deter human smuggling, but just needs to apply them more aggressively.