Mr. Speaker, on October 28, I joined 500 other Canadians to observe Ukrainians voting in their parliamentary elections.
I would like to applaud everyone from Canada who volunteered their time for the people of Ukraine. With the support of our government, Canadians were deployed through the CANADEM and OSCE missions, and others joined the Ukrainian World Congress mission.
Ukraine is still a relatively new democracy, and achieving freedom and fairness in elections will not be a simple task.
For a country that has been marred with political and civil turmoil, it was moving to see Ukrainians exercise their democratic rights in such strong numbers despite an unfair political playing field.
OSCE international observers concluded that Ukraine's parliamentary elections were characterized by a tilted playing field. Their were abuses of administrative resources, a lack of transparency in campaign financing, imprisonment of opposition leaders and a lack of balanced media coverage.
Many Ukrainians have unfortunately lost trust in the process. I encourage them not to give up.
I hope the disappointment expressed will galvanize Ukraine's political stakeholders into delivering the democratic change which Ukrainians clearly seek.