Skip to main content
PARLINFO Home > Visitors
Parliament of Canada

of His Excellency Petro Poroshenko
President of Ukraine

to both Houses of Parliament in the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa,
on Wednesday, September 17, 2014

H.E. Petro Poroshenko (President of Ukraine):

It is very hard to give a speech in such an atmosphere, believe me. I have never felt anything like this.

Mr. Prime Minister, Speaker Kinsella, Speaker Scheer, hon. members of the Senate and the House of Commons, hon. members of the diplomatic community, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, dorohi druzi. It is a deeply felt honour to address this distinguished legislative body.

I must thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for inviting me to come to Canada, and Speaker Kinsella and Speaker Scheer, for giving me such an outstanding opportunity to address the Canadian Parliament. I see this as a tribute to my country and the Ukrainian people and an expression of the unique, distinctive partnership that both of our nations enjoy.


It is a great honour for me to address the Parliament of Canada.


Let me also, just once, use the third official language of Canada: Ukrainian.

[The President spoke in Ukrainian, interpreted as follows:]

Thank you for this great honour, dear friends, dear compatriots, and dear Ukrainian community.


To be frank with you, I feel very much at home with you here today in a country that is very close to Ukraine, not in distance but through our hearts and through common ideas.

Indeed, Canada has become home for so many Ukrainian descendants of early Ukrainian settlers who came here more than a century ago. In 1892, a century before Canada was the first to recognize Ukraine's independence, the first Ukrainian immigrants, Ivan Pylypiw and Vasyl Eleniak, arrived. They launched further Ukrainian immigration to the Pacific coast and across the woods and prairies of Canada.

The Ukrainian community has easily integrated into Canadian society. It built railways and towns, schools and churches, heroically fought against the Nazis during World War II, and contributed to the Canadian economy and culture. Later, the sons and daughters of farmers became prominent members of Canadian society: businessmen, artists, scientists, athletes, and politicians. One of them, Ramon Hnatyshyn, became a governor general of Canada. We always remember his name.

The list is long and impressive: the premiers of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Roy Romanow and Gary Filmon; Senators Raynell Andreychuk and David Tkachuk; James Bezan; William Kurelek; hockey superstars, Terry Sawchuk and Wayne Gretzky; and also a female astronaut, Dr. Roberta Bondar.

We have high praise for the great Ukrainian Canadian sculptor Leo Mol, who crafted one of the best Taras Shevchenko monuments in the world, in Washington, D.C. We always remember that. If I continue with the list, we will run out of time in this session, believe me.

Today, the Ukrainian Canadian community has over a million people. It is strong, and now it has been demonstrated that it is consolidated. It has preserved the language of its homeland and its faith and traditions. Ukraine has always felt proud of Ukrainian Canadians and grateful for their lasting support.

[The President spoke in Ukrainian, interpreted as follows:]

On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I would like to thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for your help to Ukraine.


However, it is not only history that bonds us; it is also shared values that make Canada and Ukraine integral parts of a global family of democracies.

Today Ukraine pays a very high price for defending what we believe in: democracy and the freedom to choose our own future. For more than two decades we proudly stated that Ukraine gained its independence without shedding a single drop of blood. Now that is no longer true. Now we are engaged in a true battle for our independence. Now we are paying the real price.

Today Ukraine is bleeding for its independence and territorial integrity. The Governor General of Canada, Ramon Hnatyshyn, in his speech at the Ukrainian Parliament in 1992, just one year after Ukrainian independence, stated that we must not forget the suffering that we are witnessing. That day he spoke to brave Ukrainian and Canadian soldiers who kept the peace across the world in zones of conflict and unrest. These words remain true now as never before.

Today thousands of brave Ukrainian men and women are sacrificing their lives for the right to live the way they choose, on their land, under the blue and gold colours of the Ukrainian flag, colours that are so dear to many Canadian Ukrainians. In these dark days, we feel your strong support. Thank you very much for that.

It is in our time of need that we see our friends, and there is no other way to put it: Canada is a friend indeed.

As a commander-in-chief, as a Ukrainian, and as a father of a soldier, I thank Canada for each life that is being saved today in the Ukrainian Donbass by the helmets and bulletproof vests you gave us.

Once again I thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, and your government and opposition. I thank the Canadian parliamentarians and senators, all Canadians, and fellow Ukrainians for standing tall and making your voices heard; for helping financially with technical assistance and non-lethal military aid; and for supporting us in international fora such as the UN, NATO, and the G7. This is very valuable for us.

I would like to use this great opportunity to thank all Canadian parliamentarians for their continued support of Ukraine and especially for the emergency debate in the House of Commons during the critical period of the Maidan revolution of human dignity. We heard your voice, and this voice was very important for us. Our great achievement and our victory happened because of your support.

Thank you very much indeed for the work of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee on Ukraine and for the election observation mission, which helped to ensure that the will of the Ukrainian people was respected. You sent 500 observers, the biggest mission ever to come to a presidential election to confirm that it was true, free, and fair. It helped us to establish a new authority in Ukraine. Thank you.

We are waiting for your October 26 mission on the parliamentary election because we are determined to demonstrate that this election will also be free and fair.

Thank you for the many visits by parliamentarians and ministers, and for your visit, Mr. Prime Minister, at the inaugural ceremony. In the same way that Canada recognized our independence, you recognized the results of the presidential election. That was crucially important for us. In difficult times, you are always with us.

Also, I want to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, for his support of Ukraine, especially during the Maidan.

I have a long list of thanks, believe me. With all my heart, thank you very much. We really feel the strong support of Canadians, not only in difficult times but also I am sure when we have peace and we stop the war through the integrated and coordinated efforts of all the nations of the world. Canada can help us to keep the world united and Canada can help us to demonstrate to the whole world its strong solidarity with Ukraine. Thank you very much, Canada.

Without this support provided by the Government of Canada, by all parliamentarians, and by the Ukrainian Canadian community under the leadership of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, it would be much harder for Ukraine to face the challenges of today. No other leaders or nations, I mean no one, with the possible exception of Poland, was so straightforward and earnest in sending a signal across the world to the Russians and the rest of the world that fighting a nation that is trying to chart its own path is just conceptually wrong, as is arming rebels with advanced anti-aircraft missiles, providing them with operators, intelligence, and in-flight data.

Those who were equipped, trained and financed by Russia executed a terror attack by shooting down flight MH17, killing 298 innocent lives from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, and many other nations, including Canadian citizen Andrei Anghel. I think that the war in eastern Ukraine is a war against terror, our common war. I have no doubt of that.

With your support and with the support of the global community, we will win this struggle and fulfill the dreams of many Ukrainians in our homeland and across the world. Ukraine will be strong and independent and, very important, a European nation.

Yesterday was one of the most important days in the history of Ukraine. The Verkhovna Rada ratified the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement. Do you know what my feeling was yesterday when I was standing in front of the Ukrainian parliament presenting this association agreement, coordinated and synchronized with the European parliament? It was the last farewell from Ukraine to the Soviet Union. That was a Rubicon that Ukraine crossed and we never ever will turn back to our awful past.

I strongly believe that our values, our freedom, our democracy, our European future, including a membership perspective, are possible and reachable for the Ukrainian nation. Why? Because the Ukrainian nation has passed one of its most important tests during the last five months and maybe paid one of the highest prices for being European. That is why we are demanding reform, defending democracy, defending freedom, seeking a membership perspective in the European Union.

Implementation of the agreement will not only harmonize Ukraine's trade and customs rules with European Union standards but will help my country draw closer to democratic norms and a market-oriented economy.

At the Wales NATO summit, I declared my country's desire to move closer to NATO and to gain the status of a major non-NATO ally. I really count on your support on this.

All allies have strongly condemned Russia's aggression in Ukraine, the illegal annexation of Crimea, and stand ready to support territorial integrity and sovereignty in Ukraine within the internationally recognized borders, as the Canadian government, the Canadian Prime Minister, and the Canadian people are strongly doing.

I am thankful to Canada. Your country was one of the strongest supporters of Ukraine at the summit and committed to provide more than $1 million to the NATO trust fund. It will help Ukraine build its command, control, communications, and computer capabilities.

Dear friends, let us look beyond the crisis and war. Let us think of how to enhance the special partnership between Ukraine and Canada. This is why I am here. I am convinced that we need to pay more attention to bilateral co-operation in such spheres as energy, trade, investment, information, air space, and many other technologies.

In co-operation with Canada, we hope to accomplish the ambitious project of consolidating Ukraine's informational space. By launching the telecommunications satellite built by a Canadian company, we will finally be able to provide all of our regions with reliable and trustworthy information and export telecommunications services. There should be more projects like this.

I hope that both negotiating teams have translated our firm signal, the Prime Minister's and mine, and the next time we see each other we will have a Ukraine-Canada free trade agreement to sign.

Having said that, I cannot help but mention one particular program that played a significant role in enhancing our people-to-people contact. I am talking about the Canada-Ukraine parliamentary program. During the years of independence, CUPP has hosted over a thousand students from Ukraine who were able to work as interns right here in the Canadian Parliament, helping us build Ukrainian democracy. Welcome back, dear colleagues.

I also want to thank the Canadian Parliament and the Ukrainian diaspora for helping us breed a new generation of democratic and free Ukrainian leaders.

Mr. Prime Minister, I remember you mentioned that Canada is probably the most Ukrainian nation outside of Ukraine itself. You know what? This is absolutely true. Let me reciprocate. There are great European nations that stood as the source of the foundation of modern Canada. Canada has friends all over the globe, and the closest one is next to it. However, I doubt that you will find another nation that would say so sincerely what I say to you: Ukraine is probably the most Canadian nation after Canada itself.

I felt exactly this feeling today during my meetings with many Canadians. Thank you for all of that.

Let me refer to the words of Winston Churchill, who truly loved your country and visited it seven times from 1900 to 1954. We recall him as a brave leader who confronted the Nazi aggression with courage. In the summer of 1929, he wrote this from Canada to his wife:

Darling I am greatly attracted to this country.… I am profoundly touched; & I intend to devote my strength to interpreting Canada to our people....

I have the same feeling, believe me. Unfortunately, I will not write these words to my wife since she sits here with me today. I will simply tell her these words.

Please let me quote Churchill once again. He said:

I love coming to Canada....God bless your Country.

Thank you very much indeed. Merci. Slava Ukraini.


Source:House of Commons Debates, Volume 147, Number 111, 2nd Session, 41st Parliament, Official Report (Hansard), Wednesday, September 17, 2014