11 Parliamentarians Demand Investigation Into Why Hong Kong Police Were Granted Visa to Join Winnipeg Games

11 Parliamentarians Demand Investigation Into Why Hong Kong Police Were Granted Visa to Join Winnipeg Games - Eleven parliamentarians from all major parties have united in calling on cabinet ministers to investigate why visa waivers were issued to nearly 300 Hong Kong police to attend a sporting game in Winnipeg.

11 Parliamentarians Demand Investigation Into Why Hong Kong Police Were Granted Visa to Join Winnipeg Games

11 Parliamentarians Demand Investigation Into Why Hong Kong Police Were Granted Visa to Join Winnipeg Games

Eleven parliamentarians from all major parties have united in calling on cabinet ministers to investigate why visa waivers were issued to nearly 300 Hong Kong police to attend a sporting game in Winnipeg.

Members of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) attended the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) in Winnipeg that ran from July 28 to Aug. 6, despite protests from local Hong Kong communities.

The HKPF has been widely criticized for its brutal handling of the city's pro-democracy movement in 2019. Incidents of violence, including the excessive use of tear gas and rubber bullets and accusations of police raping detained female protesters, drew international attention and condemnation. In a joint letter, dated Aug. 8, the

parliamentarians expressed "shock" over the entry of Hong Kong police into Canada, especially given their recent issuance of arrest warrants and bounties for eight democracy activists, including former Hong Kong lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who was born in Canada.

"We urge you to investigate why these police officers were given visa waivers, what steps will be taken to prevent such waivers in the future particularly to those who have been accused of complicity in human rights violations, and to ensure that in the future that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will not green light visas for human rights violators," the letter stated.

The signatories include Liberal MPs John McKay and Sameer Zuberi; Conservative MPs Garnett Genuis, Tom Kmiec, James Bezan, Michael Cooper, Cathay Wagantall, and Greg McLean; NDP MPs Jenny Kwan and Heather McPherson; and Sen. Leo Housakos.

Government Response

The parliamentarians' letter was addressed to Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada (IRCC) Marc Miller and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly. Global Affairs Canada declined to comment on the parliamentarians' letter and referred the issue to the IRCC, which did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times' request for comment.

In an earlier email statement to The Epoch Times, issued on Aug. 9, the IRCC said it is "not in a position to share information on specific country participation" in the WPFG, when asked about why teams from Russia, Belarus, and Iran were reportedly barred from attending the games, but not the HKPF. It also added that invitations to an event are "at the sole discretion" of event organizers.

"Visa applications are considered on a case-by-case basis on the specific facts presented by the applicant in each case," said Mary Rose Sabater, communications adviser for IRCC. "The decisions are made by highly trained visa officers according to Canadian law. A visa is only issued when the visa officer is fully satisfied that the applicant poses no threat to the health, safety or security of Canada."

Mike Edwards, WPFG’s chief operating officer, previously told CTV News that the organization works with "our federal partners" to identify countries they deem inappropriate for participating in the games. The organization didn't reply to multiple requests for comment from The Epoch Times.

The IRCC said in another email statement, dated Aug. 1, that a foreign national may be determined as inadmissible to Canada for criminality if they have been convicted outside Canada, or have committed an act outside of Canada that would be a Canadian offence if committed in Canada.

However, the agency did not provide a direct answer when asked if an individual would be deemed inadmissible to Canada if they are complicit in state-sanctioned human rights violations, and therefore does not lead to them having a criminal record.

"A foreign national may be found to be inadmissible to Canada for criminality if they have been convicted outside Canada, or have committed an act outside of Canada that if committed in Canada would be a Canadian offence," IRCC's Communications Advisor Jeffrey MacDonald said.

"Inadmissibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis."

Concerns

The HKPF members attending the WPFG were led by Commissioner Raymond Chak-Yee Siu. The parliamentarians said he "has personally engaged in undermining human rights in Hong Kong," such as "dismantling the rule of law" and "ordering the recent detention and questioning of the families of Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers overseas."

This comment about Mr. Siu echoes concerns raised by a number of advocacy groups like Winnipeg Hong Kong Concern, which has sounded the alarm that members of the HKPF attending the WPFG have been taking photos of protesters who came out to oppose their presence in Canada.

"The evidence we have gathered in the past week clearly shows that they have been purposefully filming our protests and taking photos of protesters' faces in Canada. So, many pieces of evidence tell us that they may be secretly collecting evidence. We have no idea how they will use these photos or videos against us, in court or in the future," Brian Cheung, a member of the Winnipeg Hong Kong Concern, told The Epoch Times in Mandarin in a recent interview.

MP Jenny Kwan, who has been a vocal critic of the Chinese regime's human rights abuse, echoed such concerns about the HKPF potentially engaging in clandestine activities beyond merely attending the sports event.

"This entire situation is cause for concern, with the situation in Hong Kong worsening, and with the fact that Canada has a special immigration measure that welcomed Hongkongers who are escaping persecution here in Canada," she told NTD, sister company to The Epoch Times. "Some of these police officers may well be the people that were pursuing them."

NDP MP Jenny Kwan speaks to reporters about her briefing with CSIS where they confirmed that she was a target of foreign interference, in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on May 29, 2023. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
NDP MP Jenny Kwan speaks to reporters about her briefing with CSIS where they confirmed that she was a target of foreign interference, in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on May 29, 2023. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The Winnipeg-based group also posted a video on Facebook, showing the Hong Kong police shouting threats and expletives in Cantonese at protesters while they marched in a parade across Winnipeg as part of the WPFG's opening ceremony on July 28.

The parliamentarians said in their joint letter that they have been "appalled" to see this video circulating on social media.

The letter was shared in a statement from Hong Kong Watch. A number of the parliamentarians that signed the letter are patrons of the UK-based NGO.

“The decision to issue visa waivers for the 300 Hong Kong police officers at a time when they are harassing Hong Kong activists overseas and the Hong Kong community in Canada is facing increasing intimidation is incomprehensible," Sam Goodman, director of policy and advocacy for Hong Kong Watch, said in the statement.

"The Canadian Government should investigate why this happened and take steps to ensure that human rights violators are not given visa waivers in the future."

NTD's Vivian Yu contributed to this report.