Hong Kong—Political Situation

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, we’ve been talking about Hong Kong and the desperate or difficult situation. Yesterday I asked about China warning foreign diplomats to stay away from “Occupy Central,” to stay away from the protests, and it’s an official note. Many of the diplomats in Hong Kong are saying they were surprised to receive such a letter. Did Canada receive a letter? If so, what was in it and what is Canada’s reaction?


Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Thank you for your question. I checked and the Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong has not received the letter you mentioned.


Senator Munson: Thank you for that. Of course, tens of thousands of demonstrators are still on the streets of Hong Kong, in “Occupy Central” and outside the government offices, still with the threat of going into those government offices. The Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong has said that basically they may talk, but there’s an editorial in the People’s Daily that says if it continues, the consequences will be unimaginable.

These are the same words that were used 25 years ago, about a week before the massacre in Tiananmen Square. What is this government’s reaction to these kinds of statements from the People’s Daily, which is a mouthpiece for the Communist Party? How does Canada view this kind of threat to its people?


Senator Carignan: As I’ve said in response to your questions all week, we are concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and we will continue to closely monitor the events as they unfold.

Canada’s position is clear: we support the development of democracy in Hong Kong and we believe that continuing to follow the “one country, two systems” approach is essential for ensuring Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.

As I said, we consider universal suffrage to be a fundamental right that is consistent with the democratic aspirations of the people of Hong Kong.

What is more, our government takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously. We urge Canadians in Hong Kong to consult the website www.travel.gc.ca for up-to-date information and to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive the latest travel advisories.

I would also like to point out that Canadians in need of emergency assistance are asked to call the toll free number 613-996-8885 or send an email to sos@international.gc.ca, day or night. We are determined to provide the best possible consular services to Canadians who might need them as a result of these events.


Senator Munson: One further question for clarification: Does the government have any travel warning? I asked that, too, yesterday. You talked about Canadians on the ground. It’s a good thing to note that they have somewhere to go to or call. Flights leave Vancouver and Toronto every day going to Hong Kong either on business or on holidays, and they’re full. Should Canadians be travelling to Hong Kong at this time?


Senator Carignan: Until very recently, no. I invite people to go to www.travel.gc.ca to stay informed in case the situation changes.