Canadian Parliamentarians Join 37-Country Coalition to Support Hong Kong

June 1, 2020 Updated: June 1, 2020

An international coalition of parliamentarians that includes Canadians is calling on governments around the world to unite against the national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the Chinese regime.

On June 1, a cross-party coalition of 760 parliamentarians and policymakers from 37 countries, including 180 Canadians, issued a statement decrying Beijing’s “unilateral introduction of national security legislation in Hong Kong” and calling for sympathetic governments to unite against this “flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

Garnett Genuis, shadow minister for multiculturalism & Canada-China relations; NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh; Liberal MP Judy Sgro; Leona Alleslev, deputy leader of the Conservative Party and shadow minister of foreign affairs; and Conservative leadership candidates Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay are among the Canadian signatories. 

The Canadian signatories also include dozens of current and former MPs, four members of the Senate, and several former cabinet ministers such as former environment minister Peter Kent, former justice minister and attorney general Irwin Colter, Maxime Bernier, former foreign affairs minister and current leader of the People’s Party of Canada, and former premier of Ontario and federal MP Bob Rae.

On May 28, Beijing passed a national security law that would grant its security apparatus the ability to operate in Hong Kong, effectively ending the “one country two systems” principle in place since 1997.

The move sparked widespread criticism as the law could be used to target people and groups suspected of sedition or other “threats” to safety and security, and follows recent arrests of many leading pro-democracy activists in the former British colony.

Several countries have since moved to counter Beijing’s aggression toward Hong Kong. 

The U.S. has led the charge with a series of sweeping measures announced May 29: the revocation of Hong Kong’s special status with the United States, sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials, the barring of Chinese graduate students tied to the Chinese military, and a review of Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges.

Critics say Canada needs to do more to help Hong Kong at this critical time. 

On Monday, human rights activists and federal politicians urged Ottawa to take further steps in response to the deepening crisis in Hong Kong, noting that any measures taken should include anticipation of the potential that a growing number of refugees from Hong Kong will be seeking Canada’s protection.

At a virtual press conference hosted June 1 by Amnesty International Canada, Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Conservative MP Kenny Chiu, NDP MP Heather McPherson, and Bloc MP Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe joined democracy activists calling for strong multilateral action.

Beijing’s national security law targets “separatism, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign interference,” said a press release from Amnesty International, adding the legislation would also allow central government agencies responsible for national security “to operate in Hong Kong, posing a clear threat to human rights in the city.” 

“There is a mounting crisis in Hong Kong, with implications for Canada’s relationship with China, an increasingly urgent situation for refugees and immigrants and a pressing need for strong multilateral action.”