Ottawa Stands with Ukraine, Not Advocating for Wartime Election

Ottawa Stands with Ukraine, Not Advocating for Wartime Election
Ukrainians react during the All-National minute of silence in commemoration of Ukrainian soldiers killed in the country's war against Russia on Independence square in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. Ukraine commemorates veterans and fallen soldiers on Sunday. The date of the annual Day of the Defenders was moved from 14th October as part of the reforms of the church calendar introduced by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (AP Photo/Alex Babenko)


In a stance of unity and understanding, Canada has announced it does not intend to press Ukraine into holding a wartime election. The focus will remain steadfast on a broader democratic perspective, signaling Canada’s support towards Kyiv amidst geopolitical tensions.

A key figure from Global Affairs Canada, Alexandre Lévêque, presented insights before a Senate committee on Ottawa’s broader vision for Ukraine. Lévêque emphasized, “Democracy is about a lot more than just going to vote.” A sentiment that echoes the complications Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy voiced during his Ottawa visit. Zelenskyy highlighted the logistical challenges of holding elections while Russian forces are occupying regions, with the looming threat of bombing polling centers.

This is not the first instance of Canada’s deep involvement with Ukraine. Since Ukraine’s declaration of independence in 1991, Canada has played an instrumental role in observing its electoral processes. The current constitutional stance in Ukraine mandates an election next spring. However, there’s a specific caveat that elections can’t be convened during martial law.

Lévêque further elaborated on the international context, expressing concerns over the diminishing support for Ukraine from neighboring countries and even allies in Washington. He passionately testified at the Senate’s foreign affairs committee, emphasizing, “Actions speak louder than words.” He continued, “What gets pronounced during an election campaign and what actually happens along with a NATO ally can be very different.”

Recent shifts in global politics have further complicated the situation. Slovakia, having chosen a new government, seems to be leaning towards reducing its backing for Ukraine. Poland, meanwhile, is cutting down on its arms exports amidst concerns from its farming community about Ukrainian crops impacting their business. Across the Atlantic, there have been increasing calls from the Republican party for the U.S. to reconsider its support for Ukraine.

Ottawa Stands with Ukraine, Not Advocating for Wartime Election
Trudeau and Zelensky, in Ottawa, Canada, September 22, 2023, Photo: Reuters

Lévêque passionately stated the need for continued Canadian and international support, as “Russia continues to bank on Ukraine’s allies and partners growing tired.” Despite these challenges, there’s a palpable unity among allies, driven by the goal to bring about meaningful historical change.

While the topic of potentially linking Canada’s foreign aid to countries based on their support for Ukraine or Russia was broached, Lévêque maintained that Canada’s aid remains need-based. This comes in the backdrop of the right-wing segment of Finland’s government proposing a similar idea, which met with significant global resistance.

In light of the sanctions on Russia, Lévêque highlighted Canada’s awareness of countries trying to bypass these restrictions by substituting Western countries for exports or using different transit routes. He accentuated the limitations of current laws that prevent third-party sanctions and shared Canada’s efforts in working with nations like Indonesia, Brazil, and Turkey to spread awareness about Russia’s actions destabilizing global peace.