Canadian Election Observers Arrive in Ukraine

Canadian election observers in Ukraine. Front row, centre: Olya Odynska-Grod, Deputy Head of the Mission

Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

On February 15, 2019, CANADEM, an Ottawa-based NGO, has officially launched Mission Canada 2019 to observe the Presidential election in Ukraine, scheduled for March 31, 2019. The election observation mission will observe all aspects of the presidential electoral process, and assess compliance with international standards for democratic elections and domestic laws.

“We are very pleased to be here to observe Ukraine’s upcoming presidential election,” – stated the Deputy Head of Mission, Olya Odynska-Grod. “Mission Canada is neutral and impartial in its assessment and we hope that our mission will contribute to Ukraine’s democratic process.”
A group of 50 Long-term Observers (LTOs) arrived in Ukraine at the beginning of February, 2019. Approximately 100 Short-Term Observers (STOs) are expected to arrive in Ukraine one week before Election Day to reinforce the work of the LTOs in the field.

The OSCE monitoring missions that are widely considered the gold standard in international election monitoring will be crucial to preserving Ukraine’s ability to conduct a democratically sound election in the face of Russian efforts designed to portray the country as poorly run and corrupt.

Election analysts and observers will assess the electoral campaign, voting and counting procedures, compilation of results and post-election activities, including complaints and appeals procedures. They will also evaluate the general political context, the work of the election administration, the media environment and the role of civil society, as well as the participation of women, internally displaced persons and minorities in the electoral process.

“Election observation is one of most transparent and accountable ways to support democracy,” Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, responded to media in an email. “That is why Canada is proud to support Ukraine’s upcoming elections through a range of actions, including a bilateral election observation mission and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) election observation mission.”

Ukraine is hosting 100 long-term and 750 short-term observers from 13 countries serving on the OSCE mission. Interestingly, two proposed Russian observers were rejected by Ukraine and Moscow withdrew their request to serve on the mission, said Thomas Rymer, spokesman for the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.