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
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
per week
for 24 weeks
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); } //

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Nov. 12, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino says Hongkongers who were arrested or charged after “taking part in peaceful protests” in the former British colony would not be deemed inadmissible to Canada, but he declined to say if this covers specific charges such as rioting or unlawful assembly.

Human-rights advocates and civil-liberties groups have accused Hong Kong authorities of politically motivated arrests and charges in connection with protests that began in mid-2019.

Mr. Mendicino was testifying Monday evening before the House of Commons special committee on Canada-China relations about a program that Ottawa announced last week to attract young Hong Kong migrants who would be economically useful to this country.

Story continues below advertisement

He faced repeated questions from opposition MPs, including NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan and Conservative immigration critic Raquel Dancho, about whether Canada is willing to overlook arrests or charges relating to protests that began in mid-2019.

In his opening remarks, the minister said Ottawa would not deny entry to anyone solely for having been charged under a new national-security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong in June. Ostensibly aimed at secession, subversion and terrorism, the law defines these offences so vaguely that critics say it effectively criminalizes dissent and opposition.

Mr. Mendicino also said would-be migrants or asylum seekers would also not be denied entry for “arrests and convictions outside Canada for taking part in peaceful protests.”

There have been relatively few charges laid under the new security legislation, but more than 10,000 Hongkongers have been arrested in connection with pro-democracy protests dating back to June, 2019, and more than 2,400 face charges, often for “rioting” and unlawful assembly.

Pressed on the matter, Mr. Mendicino reiterated that no one will be deemed inadmissible, “if they have not committed any crime that is known to Canadian law.”

Opposition MPs on the committee noted, however, that rioting and unlawful assembly, two charges laid against protestors in Hong Kong, are also listed as charges under the Canadian Criminal Code.

The minister replied that it would be up to public servants to make the determination.

Story continues below advertisement

“All I can do is reiterate what the principle is. But it is not for me to adjudicate that admissibility screening,” Mr. Mendicino told MPs.

Ms. Dancho said she would have liked to hear a more broad commitment from the minister regarding the admissibility of those with protest arrests or related charges on their record.

“Either we stand with pro-democracy protesters against the Communist regime or we don’t," she said. "They once had the same freedoms as Canada, and they are having them taken away. Shouldn’t we be doing all we can for them?”

Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said he doesn’t think that Hongkongers wanting to flee to Canada will face trouble gaining entry due to arrests or charges for protests.

“Canada is unlikely to view Hong Kong charges as being equivalent to Canadian criminal charges,” he said.

“The Immigration and Refugee Board will bring out the rules used during the Soviet Union era to see if charges were ‘criminal’ or ‘political,’” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

It has been more than three months since Beijing enacted the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security, cracking down on a multitude of freedoms in Hong Kong. Western countries including Canada have accused the Chinese government of breaking a treaty with Britain that pledged to leave human and civil rights in Hong Kong untouched for 50 years after the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.

This new law spells trouble for the multitude of Hongkongers who have opposed Beijing’s efforts to erode rights in the Asian city, including those arrested or charged in connection with past protests or those under surveillance by Hong Kong police.

Canada’s arm’s-length Immigration and Refugee Board recently granted asylum to two Hong Kong activists, as The Globe and Mail first reported, but their case was unusual in that they came to Canada in late 2019, and neither face charges back home for taking part in pro-democracy protests. More than 45 other activists who arrived before the coronavirus pandemic have also applied to be accepted as refugees.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. 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 the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
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