Pylyp Orlyk commemoration speech by Paul Grod

Today, Ukrainian Canadians are proud to celebrate the 300th Anniversary of Ukraine’s first constitution. By recalling history we allow ourselves an opportunity to learn from our past.

As demonstrated by this first democratic European constitution, Ukraine was on the road to becoming a great and progressive European state, however, the imperial ambitions of Ukraine’s neighbours had and continue to hinder Ukraine’s development as an independent and democratic state.

Ukraine’s current government can take a lesson from Orlyk’s Constitution, namely:

Separating and creating a balance of power between the executive, legislature and judiciary as well as Ukraine’s independence from its neighbours.

There are many parallels to be draw between the events of 300 years ago and those unfolding in Ukraine today. A key ally to Ukraine at that time was King Charles the 12th of Sweden who was conferred in the articles of the constitution the title of “protector of Ukraine…and responsible for the preservation of its integrity, rights, privileges and borders”. Today Ukraine needs Canada to be the Sweden of 300 years ago. As a host of the G20 summit in June, Canada has a unique opportunity to stand up as “the protector of Ukraine” by expressing its unequivocal support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, political, economic and cultural sovereignty. It is incumbent upon Canada to stand behind Ukraine in pushing back Russia’s assertion of its sphere of influence over Ukraine.

I would like to recognize and congratulate the Government of Canada and our Parliamentarians for all the work that they have been done in developing strong bilateral relations with Ukraine. Today more than ever, Ukraine needs Canada’s support and engagement as many Ukrainians are feeling isolated and abandoned by western democracies.

In celebrating 300 years of the first democratic European constitution, let us remember in which geopolitical context it was introduced and appreciate that Ukraine today is in a similar precarious position which needs Canada’s full attention and support – which I’m confident we can count on.

Thank you.

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