Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Pro-democracy activist Martin Lee walks out from a court after receiving a suspended sentence in Hong Kong, April 16, 2021.

Vincent Yu/The Associated Press

Winnie Ng is the chairperson of Toronto Association for Democracy in China. Hassan Yussuff is the president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Ever since Hong Kong’s National Security Law took effect on July 1, 2020, the nakedness of Beijing’s control over the Hong Kong regional government has been swift and unimaginably aggressive.

All pretense and rhetoric have been unmasked and replaced by a systematic and pervasive effort to wipe out a new generation of pro-democracy activists, while at the same time crushing long-time advocates. The latest such blow came on April 16, with the guilty verdict of prominent pro-democracy activists, including 82-year-old Martin Lee, known as the father of Hong Kong’s democracy, and with the imprisonment of Lee Cheuk-yan, the general-secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, or HKCTU, for “unauthorized assembly.”

Story continues below advertisement

As fellow labour activists, we have known and worked with the HKCTU’s Mr. Lee for the past three decades. The confederation, which was founded in 1990 after the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, is the only independent labour central body in Hong Kong and is a sister organization of the Canadian Labour Congress. Mr. Lee is a much-respected labour advocate and a dear friend to the Canadian labour movement on international solidarity work through his visits to Canada. He is also the chairperson of the HK Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the lead organization for the annual June 4 candlelight vigil in Hong Kong.

Like other pro-democracy movement leaders, Mr. Lee had long expected he would be among the first targets of China’s war on human rights in Hong Kong. He had many opportunities to flee but he chose to stay on the island to continue the fight, sacrificing his own liberties in the process.

Seven Hong Kong democracy leaders to be sentenced amid crackdown

Hong Kong media tycoon sentenced to 14 months in prison for 2019 pro-democracy activity

There are many heroes like Mr. Lee, but there are also many Hong Kongers who rightly fear for their and their family’s safety, and who are seeking to leave their homeland. They have been unable to do so, however, in part because of the travel ban currently imposed by many countries during the COVID-19 pandemic – and now, according to the Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA), it might become nearly impossible for certain people to flee the country.

A new immigration bill, passed by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Wednesday, will empower the secretary for security to make regulations that could grant power to the director of immigration to potentially bar any individuals, whether they are Hong Kong residents or not, from boarding a flight without first going to court. Such unfettered power vested in the director of immigration could carry serious consequences on the freedom of movement currently enjoyed by residents, and will further intensify the control on those whom the government may deem to be “troublemakers” from leaving, as is currently the case on China’s mainland, where many human-rights lawyers and dissidents are forbidden to use even train services, let alone airline carriers.

It could also potentially restrict the mobility of Canadian expatriates residing in Hong Kong, as well as the hundreds of pro-democracy activists who are stranded in Hong Kong because of COVID-19 travel bans in place in Canada and elsewhere.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau, for its part, has said the law would be applied only to inbound flights and is aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from entering. The HKBA, however, has flagged that the bill sets out no clear limits or safeguards on this ability to restrict freedom of travel.

The law will take effect on Aug. 1, and Canada must act before that. The minister of immigration, refugee and citizenship should immediately grant special travel permits for those who are at risk of arrests for their political actions. Furthermore, Canada should also expedite any applications that have been submitted under the various recently announced special programs for Hong Kong residents and issue the necessary exemptions from the current travel ban.

Story continues below advertisement

The Canadian government must also allow extended family members (including parents and adult children) of Canadians living in Hong Kong to accompany them to Canada, should they choose to evacuate Hong Kong before the new exit control comes into effect.

We must step up and expedite all humanitarian measures that will assist those who are most at risk with a safe and secure process to leave Hong Kong for Canada.

The people of Hong Kong have attempted to stand up against a powerful authoritarian regime to safeguard the core values of democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law. Canada, and its allies, must not let them down.

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies