Meeting with Kenney, visit to consulate as former president of Ukraine visits Edmonton

A former president of Ukraine came to Edmonton Monday, fulfilling a long-standing invitation from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to visit the Ukrainian Consulate General office, which opened in 2018.

Petro Poroshenko was Ukraine's fifth president between 2014 and 2019. While speaking with reporters at the Alberta legislature on Monday, he said his main message is that unity for Ukraine is an international issue. 

"This is the global cause," Poroshenko said when asked about the current political situation in Ukraine. 

"And this is a strong reason for the whole nation to be united." 

His visit includes a lecture at the University of Alberta, a private meeting with Premier Jason Kenney, and a banquet to build support for Ukraine within the very large Alberta Ukrainian diaspora.

Kenney, along with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland who is also in Edmonton on Monday, will attend the banquet. Both are vocal supporters of Ukraine in its efforts to assert autonomy. 

Kim Trynacity/CBC

Poroshenko stopped to read the inscription on a monument dedicated to Ukrainian immigrants on the grounds of the Alberta legislature before his closed door meeting with Kenney.

The two have met before. Kenney is widely viewed as a strong ally to Ukraine in its stand against Russian-backed aggression.

Blames Russia

When asked about impeachment hearings into alleged interference by U.S.  President Donald Trump and Ukraine's current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Poroshenko lashed out at Russia.

He said Russia is trying to draw attention away from its ongoing war with Ukraine and its involvement in the 2015 U.S. presidential elections and the Brexit referendum. 

Earlier Monday, Poroshenko and his wife Maryna Poroshenko attended a Holodomor Ukrainian Famile Genocide Commemoration event at Edmonton City Hall.