Harper government ignores advice on Ukraine election observation missions
OTTAWA - For the third time in four years, the Harper government has sent a large, Canada-only mission to observe an election in Ukraine, despite a report that concluded it would be cheaper, more credible and more effective to join a multilateral international mission.
Some 338 observers are part of Canada's current independent mission in Ukraine; they are fanned out across the troubled country to assess the integrity of Sunday's presidential election process.
Another 162 Canadians are also monitoring the election as part of a multilateral mission co-ordinated by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), whose missions are considered the gold standard by veteran election observers.
Canada also sent large, independent delegations to observe Ukraine's parliamentary elections in 2012 and its presidential election in 2010, in addition to participation in OSCE missions.
Yet, after the first Canada-only mission in 2004, an evaluation report prepared for the government concluded the large scale of that bilateral venture "should not be considered as a precedent but only as a 'last resort option' for future Canadian observer missions."
"The use of multilateral missions for Canadian short term election observers should continue to be considered as the first deployment option," said the report, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.