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Canada–Ukraine relations

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Canada-Ukraine relations



Canada–Ukraine relations[1] are the bilateral ties between Canada and Ukraine.

Formal relations

Embassy of Canada in Kyiv
Embassy of Canada in Kyiv
Embassy of Ukraine in Ottawa
Embassy of Ukraine in Ottawa

Diplomatic relations were established between Canada and Ukraine on January 27, 1992.[2] Canada opened its embassy in Kyiv in April 1992, and the Embassy of Ukraine in Ottawa opened in October of that same year, paid for mostly by donations from the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Ukraine opened a consulate general in Toronto in 1993 and announced plans to open another in Edmonton in 2008. Canada also has a consulate in Lviv.[citation needed]

The main bilateral agreement signed between the two governments is the joint declaration of the "Special Partnership" between the two countries signed in 1994 and renewed in 2001.[3]

Sales of Canadian military hardware to Ukraine were permitted by the government of Justin Trudeau in December 2017, as Global Affairs Canada minister Chrystia Freeland lifted the restrictions that had been imposed for an undetermined period of time.[4]

Free-trade agreement

On September 22, 2009, talks between Canada and Ukraine on a free trade agreement began.[5][6]

A Canada–Ukraine Free Trade Agreement was signed in July 2016 and entered into force on 1 August 2017.[7][8]

High level visits

In 1992, the Governor General of Canada, Ramon Hnatyshyn, visited Ukraine—his ancestral homeland with which he closely identified[9]—in his capacity as Vice-Regent. This was followed in 2005 by the formal state visit of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and again in 2009 by Governor General Michaëlle Jean. In 1994, Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma, in a gesture recognizing the importance of Ukraine-Canada relations, undertook a visit to Canada, his first state visit abroad. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien visited Ukraine in 1999. In 2008, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko travelled to Ottawa and other centres as part of a state visit. While in Ottawa, he addressed a joint meeting of the House of Commons and Senate of the Canadian Parliament, a rare privilege extended foreign dignitaries.

In September 2014, the Ukrainians visited Ottawa to plead for weapons, like anti-tank missiles, surveillance gear and armoured vehicles, with which to subdue the eastern separatists along the border with Russia. Defence Minister Jason Kenney said no. In July 2015 while Stephen Harper was still in power, it came to light that more than 5,400 Eryx anti-tank missiles, 10 Husky vehicles and Buffalo vehicles, four specialized landmine detection systems and 194 LAV-2 Light Armoured Vehicles had been declared surplus by the Canadian military.[10]

In July 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Canadian military trainers who were in western Ukraine as part of the effort to subdue the separatists in the east along the border with Russia. In Kyiv a few days later, Petro Poroshenko thanked Canada for its contributions. The leaders signed a free-trade agreement on that date.[11]

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at that time the former prime minister of Ukraine, visited Ottawa in May 2017 on a fruitless quest for weaponry. He met with Chrystia Freeland and Ralph Goodale.[12]

In July 2019, the Canadian government hosted the third Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto for three days,[13] where more than 800 people from 36 countries and international finance organizations like the IMF took part.[14][4] The theme was the Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine.[14] Newly inaugurated President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a new agreement for Canada to supply military hardware to Ukraine. The weapons would be used as part of the effort to subdue the separatists in the east along the border with Russia. Justin Trudeau refused to sign the agreement.[15][16] Trudeau and Zelenskiy "declared a mutual interest in improving student exchanges and youth work permits" but nothing was done, although money was found to "promote gender equality".[16]


The main Canadian political parties are keen to be seen promoting democratic reform initiatives in Ukraine, encouraging Ukraine to engage and possibly join Western institutions such as the EU, NATO[1] while distancing itself from Russia. This is a delicate matter as the East vs West trajectory (Russia vs. Europe) is a normally sensitive political issue in Ukraine. Direct involvement would violate international protocol (seen as interference in Ukraine's internal affairs), and possibly undercut pro-Western forces in the country. Nevertheless, many Canadians (including members of parliament, and former Prime Minister John Turner) were part of an international observer team that monitored Ukraine's 2004 presidential election.[1] Canadian media were typically sympathetic to the forces of the Orange Revolution, with the national magazine Maclean's running a front-page story on the protests. Documented election irregularities by observer teams led to a re-run of the election resulting in the presidential electoral victory of the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko. Canadian Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson, Canada's head-of-state representative, would attend Yushchenko's investiture[1] wearing an orange scarf, the colour of the pro-Western movement.

Sub-national ties

The "Welcome to Canora" statue, "Lesia"
The "Welcome to Canora" statue, "Lesia"

Much about the relationship is based on the legacy of migration. However, Ukrainians, migrating to Canada, did not come equally from all parts of Ukraine, nor did they move equally to all parts of Canada. The largest number of Ukrainian immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries settled in the Canadian Prairies and accounts for this region's strong cultural and historical ties with Ukraine, notably Western Ukraine from whence the majority came. Ontario has also been a province that has attracted Ukrainian immigrants, especially in the immediate post-war period.[17] Recent immigration to Canada from post-independence Ukraine (post-1991) is a function of resumed immigration flows (prevented during the Soviet period) and targeted provincial immigration programs. The latter has resulted in migrants coming to those provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba) identifying Ukraine as a potentially significant area of immigrant recruitment for skilled workers.

The majority of Ukrainians who migrated to the Canadian province of Alberta between 1893 and 1929 came from a few small districts in western Ukraine, many of them in modern-day Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. Consequently, Alberta's premier Ralph Klein visited Ivano-Frankivsk in 2002, reciprocated by a subsequent visit to Edmonton from the governor of Ivano-Frankivsk, Mykhailo Vyshyvaniuk, at which time the two governments signed a trade and cooperation agreement.[3] Alberta is expected to sign a similar document with neighbouring Lviv Oblast.[3][needs update] Other recent significant contacts at the provincial level include Premier Roy Romanow's official visit to Ukraine in 1995[18] and the visit of Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma to Saskatchewan at the invitation of Premier Romanow (2000), as well as delegations to Ukraine from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan at the ministerial level, all of which have led to a series of concluded agreements and memoranda of understanding on culture, education and economic matters. As a means to increasing prospective relations, a number of provincial jurisdictions have also established formal Advisory Committees (Saskatchewan-Ukraine Advisory Committee, Manitoba-Ukraine Secretariat, Advisory Council on Alberta-Ukraine Relations).[19]

Finally, beyond a number of twinning regional agreements, e.g. Saskatchewan-Chernivtsi oblast,[20] a number of Canadian cities are also twinned with Ukrainian municipal counterparts, strengthening cultural and social contacts at the local level. Twinned cities include Toronto/Kyiv, Winnipeg/Lviv, Vancouver/Odesa, and Saskatoon/Chernivtsi.

Humanitarian and development aid to Ukraine

Canadian organizations, including non-governmental, are active in providing different kinds of aid to Ukraine. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded the establishment of Centre for Small Business and Economic Development (SBEDIF) in Ivano-Frankivsk.[1] An additional CA$3.8 million was committed for a regional network project to support small business growth and economic development in five additional communities in the same oblast of Western Ukraine.[1]

The Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce (CUCC) plays an important role in promoting trade and business ties between the two countries.[21] In 2016, Global Affairs Canada established the Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support (CUTIS) Project, which is budgeted for five years and was designed "to lower poverty in Ukraine through increasing exports from Ukraine to Canada and investment from Canada to Ukraine".[22]

Canadian non-governmental organizations also have substantially provided aid to the Ukrainian army and set up rehabilitation clinics for Ukrainian soldiers during the War in Donbass.[23]

Educational Contacts

The longest standing educational partnership at the post-secondary level is that of between the University of Saskatchewan and Chernivtsi National University. An inter-university agreement has been in existence between the two partners since 1977.[citation needed] The relationship, however, currently operates through the Ramon Hnatyshyn Canadian Studies Centre, a research and teaching unit created in 2003 and devoted to Canadian studies at Chernvitsi National University. The National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy has also established a Canadian Studies Center in 2009 to help facilitate the study of Canada and to foster greater inter-university contact and scholarly exchange.[citation needed]

Bilateral exchanges between Canadian and Ukrainian universities exist in the sciences, social sciences and humanities across a variety of fields. Canadian universities and colleges with active exchange programs include: University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, Queen's University, St. Thomas More College and MacEwan University.

In 1991, with the support of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation of Toronto, the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program (CUPP) was created. CUPP has provided Ukrainian university students with an opportunity to learn how democracy functions in Canada by working closely with Canadian Members of Parliament of all parties. Ukrainian students are competitively selected from among 48 participating institutions of higher-learning in Ukraine.[24]

Entanglement in the Russian-Ukrainian war

Soon after the 2019 Canadian federal election was won by Justin Trudeau, who had faced down Andrew Scheer, a supporter of sending Canadian peacekeepers to Ukraine, Ukrainian deputy foreign minister Vasyl Bodnar in the government of Volodymyr Zelensky revived the idea of sending Canadian peacekeepers to the war-torn Donbass territory of Ukraine. CBC reporter Murray Brewster was employed to help disseminate the Ukrainian press release.[25]

Country comparison

Ukraine Ukraine Canada Canada
Population 42.00 million 38.05 million
Area 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi) 9,984,670  km2 (3,855,100 sq mi )
Population density 73.8/km2 (191.1/sq mi) 3.92/km2 (10.2/sq mi)
Capital Kyiv Ottawa
Largest city Kyiv (2,988,176) Toronto – 2,731,571 (5,928,040 Metro Toronto)
Government Unitary semi-presidentialconstitutional republic Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
First leader Leonid Kravchuk John A. Macdonald
Current leader Volodymyr Zelensky Justin Trudeau
Official languages Ukrainian English; French
Main religions 87.4% Christianity, 11.0% non-Religious, 0.4% Judaism, 1.2% Other 67.2% Christianity, 23.9% Non-Religious, 3.2% Islam, 1.5% Hinduism, 1.4% Sikhism, 1.1% Buddhism, 1.0% Judaism
Ethnic groups 77.8% Ukrainians, 17.3% Russians, 0.6% Belorussians, 0.5% Moldovans, 0.5% Crimean Tatars,

0.4% Bulgarians, 0.3% Hungarians, 0.3% Romanians, 0.3% Poles, 1.7% Others/Unspecified (2001 Census)

76.7% White, 14.2% Asian, 4.3% Aboriginal, 2.9% Black, 1.2% Latin American, 0.5% Multiracial, 0.3% other (2011 Census)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Canadau, Government of; Canada, Gouvernement du. "Insert the English title - Insérer le titre en anglais".
  2. ^ For a detailed discussion of Canada's early diplomatic engagement with Canada, see Bohdan Kordan, "Canadian Ukrainian Relations: Articulating the Canadian Interest," in L. Hajda, ed. (1996), Ukraine in the World: Studies in the International Relations and Security Structure of a Newly Independent State. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  3. ^ a b c "Embassy of Ukraine in Canada - Political Affairs".
  4. ^ a b "Ukraine reform hindered by corruption, U.S. says, as new leader makes North American debut in Toronto". National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. The Canadian Press. 2 July 2019.
  5. ^ Minister Day Announces Free Trade Talks with Ukraine, Government of Canada (September 22, 2009)
  6. ^ Tymoshenko hopes for more effective cooperation with Canada after creation of free trade area, Interfax-Ukraine (September 23, 2009)
  7. ^ "Text of the Canada–Ukraine Free trade agreement – Table of contents". Global Affairs Canada. 2016-09-15.
  8. ^ "Minister Carr hosts Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Joint Commission meeting". Global Affairs Canada. 2018-10-19.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2009-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Millions in military gear goes to scrap heap instead of Ukraine". Ottawa Citizen. 5 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Justin Trudeau visits Canadian military trainers in western Ukraine". CBC. 12 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Ukraine seeks weapons from Ottawa to help fend off Russia-backed rebels". The Globe and Mail Inc. 18 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Defence Minister Sajjan Concludes Trip to Ukraine". Government of Canada. 22 May 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Ukraine Reform Conference July 2-4, 2019 - Toronto, Canada". Global Affairs Canada. 2 July 2019. Archived from the original on 30 November 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Zelenskiy: Ukraine, Canada to sign agreement on supply of military hardware". UNIAN.NET. 2 July 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Trudeau and Ukraine's new president agree to talk about expanding free trade". CBC. 2 July 2019.
  17. ^ See Lubomyr Y. Luciuk and Bohdan S. Kordan (1989), Creating a Landscape: A Geography of Ukrainians in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2009-07-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ See;;; and Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ See Archived 2013-09-17 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Calendar of events, Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce
  22. ^ "Our Focus". Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support.
  23. ^ Burridge, Tom (11 July 2016). "Canadian-Ukrainian relations: As thick as blood?" – via
  24. ^ ":: Uportal by WebServiceCenter".
  25. ^ "Canadian-led peacekeeping mission in Ukraine 'Plan B' for Kyiv, official says". CBC. 1 November 2019.
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Canada–Ukraine relations
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