Ukraine's Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko says presidential elections in Ukraine prove Canada's support works and must continue, and the clearest evidence that Canadian and western support for Ukraine is yielding positive results is the peaceful transition of power after presidential elections two months ago.
"It's something which most Canadians take for granted but it's not something we take for granted in our part of the world," Shevchenko said in an interview with The West Block's Mercedes Stephenson, according to Canada's Global News.
Shevchenko said he was glad for the roughly 500 Canadian election observers who have been sent to monitor the highly anticipated elections in the country. Those results were widely viewed as a test for how the country would handle attempts by Russia to interfere in its election.
Interference had been anticipated to take the form both of cyber manipulation as well as physical blocking of access to polls in areas like Crimea and eastern parts of Ukraine, and the Canadian Press reported earlier this year that Russian interference still kept roughly one million Ukrainians from going to the polls.
Shevchenko said he hoped the election interference observed by Canadian monitors during the campaign would help them recognize the signs of interference in the upcoming federal election in Canada this fall.
He said if he has one piece of advice for Canada, it's to act decisively. "You do not have to wait when this major interference comes into your backyard," he said. "We saw several major avenues for interference into the elections … that's why we feel it's very important for us to share our experience how we fight this interference with the Canadians."
The issue and how to apply lessons learned to the upcoming Ukrainian parliamentary elections in July is set to form a big part of the agenda at the Ukraine Reform Conference being hosted by Canada in Toronto next week. It will bring together Ukrainian leaders, foreign ministers and parliamentarians from around the world to discuss how best to cement democratic reform in Ukraine and how to address Russian aggression. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will host the event.
The presidential elections in Ukraine were held in two rounds, the first one was on March 31 and the second one was on April 21, won by Volodymyr Zelensky by landslide.
During his July 1-3 visit to Canada, Zelensky will hold meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, members of parliament, and business representatives.
The parliamentary elections in Ukraine are scheduled for July 21.