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Rights + Justice

Another Hong Kong Group Flails Canada's Lack of Formal Support

Tweets aren't enough says Canada-Hong Kong Link; NDP submits motion to gather testimony.

Jeremy Nuttall 10 Oct

Jeremy J. Nuttall is The Tyee's Parliament Hill reporter in Ottawa. Find his previous stories here.

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Another group representing Hong Kong Canadians says the federal government must take a clear stance on universal suffrage in the region and has also asked for a parliamentary hearing to address the issue.

In response the New Democrats have submitted a motion to have a Foreign Affairs and International Development committee study the situation in Hong Kong, which would include witness testimony with the findings being brought back to the House of Commons.

Opposition to Beijing's plan to only allow Hong Kong voters to cast a ballot for a slate of Beijing-approved candidates in its 2017 election boiled over in the city this month as the region's youth clogged the arteries of the financial hub in protest.

The Tyee reported last week community groups representing Canada's Hong Kong community were becoming impatient with Ottawa's lack of response to the crisis.

Thus far, the only support has been a couple tweets and a Facebook message from Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird.

Gloria Fung with Toronto-based Canada-Hong Kong Link said her group met with Baird and Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney this week to tell them a more formal and stern message must be sent.

"What we're looking for is an official statement of support," Fung said. "They didn't indicate any exact commitment that the government is going to come up with a statement, however both of them said Harper will bring this up in his visit to China."

Fung said, while she is convinced the two ministers have sympathy for Hong Kong democracy advocates, any expression of support or concerns for them must be made publicly, not behind closed doors.

Thursday Fung said the cancellation of talks by Hong Kong officials with students -- claiming they couldn't find a venue -- underscores the need for Canada to speak up.

She also met with NDP MPs, including Dona Davies and Kennedy Stewart in Ottawa.

NDP expects vote later in month

Despite what Hong Kongers in Canada have called a weak response the two tweets seemed enough to draw a response from China's ambassador to Canada in Toronto Tuesday, according to the Globe and Mail.

An earlier report by The Tyee said about 300,000 Canadian citizens are thought to be residents of Hong Kong, but Fung said at a recent meetings with officials from the region she was told the number is now thought to be more than 350,000.

She said due to that and Canada's support for the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed when the region was handed back to China, which called for free elections, Ottawa must stand up for democracy in the region.

"Canadians foreign policy should not just be based on economic development and trade," said Fung, referring to accusations Canada is remaining silent for the sake of commerce with China.

Fung also said the alleged use of gangsters to physically attack the youths and sexually assault some of them without consequence must also be addressed.

The NDP said they expect their motion to be voted on sometime in late October.  [Tyee]

Read more: Rights + Justice, Politics

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