September 17, 2014
“There’s something I haven’t mentioned to anyone, yet…” confessed the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, to the large crowds gathered on Parliament Hill earlier today, “This is my first visit to Canada!” He was certainly made to feel at home by the warm welcome. Canadians of many ethnic backgrounds including Polish, Belorus, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Jewish, Hungarian and Crimean Tatars joined with Ukrainian-Canadians in support of a sovereign and independent Ukraine.
Following his official address in Parliament, Poroshenko gave a brief, but powerful speech outside on the Hill. The mood was celebratory. And for good reason. This was the day after Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) voted in favour of EU association. Ukraine’s newly elected President spoke optimistically of future Ukraine-Canadian relations. Following his informal, but well-crafted speech, security staff were caught off-guard as Poroshenko quickened down the steps to greet and shake hands with people. We shook hands as he passed. “Cool!” I thought, “that’s probably the closest I’ll get to a billionaire.”