Canadian Ukraine election monitoring missions questioned in new report
Main purpose is to 'promote the sending country', report finds
Jul 21, 2014
The Canadian Press
A new internal government report has once again raised questions about the Harper government's penchant for sending large teams of Canadian election monitors to Ukraine.
The March report, prepared by an outside consultant for the Foreign Affairs Department, is the latest in a series of internal government assessments that raise red flags about the missions.
The reports began in 2004 under the Liberals and have been repeatedly embraced by the Conservatives, most recently in May.
Ottawa sent about 350 people to monitor the May 25 presidential ballot in Ukraine in a Canadian-led bilateral mission.
Approximately 150 went as part of a separate multinational effort led by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is seen as the most credible international body for conducting such missions.
After the Liberals' first and only Ukraine observer mission in 2004, a separate internal report concluded that they "should not be considered as a precedent but only as a 'last resort option' for future Canadian observer missions."
Since then, that advice has been repeatedly ignored.
The most recent March report addresses another problem in international election monitoring practices that Canada continues to ignore: allowing expatriates to monitor elections in their native lands.
The report says Canadian bilateral missions are of more use to Canada than others nations, saying their main purpose is to "promote the sending country entirely."
Observers in Ukraine had the words "Mission Canada" displayed prominently on their clothing, while their activities were reported by Canadian and Ukrainian journalists, the report says.
"While this certainly is an effective method of promoting Canadian involvement, it is not consistent in any way with EOM best practices."