MLA Michelle Mungall is Ukraine-bound.

Nelson-Creston MLA to observe Ukraine election

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall is headed for Ukraine next week to observe the fairness of that country’s parliamentary election.

Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall is headed for Ukraine next week as part of a Canadian team that will observe the fairness of that country’s parliamentary election.

“I’m really excited,” Mungall told the Star. “The concept of democracy is a huge passion of mine and being able to contribute to increasing democratic fairness around the world is a wonderful opportunity.”

Mungall will be part of a 430-strong delegation led by federal multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney monitoring the October 28 vote.

Eighty-seven parties are seeking seats in the parliament, known as the Verkhovna Rada. Presently the Party of Regions, led by prime minister Mykola Azarov, holds the largest number of seats — 195 of 450.

The election will use a combination of proportional representation and first-past-the-post, with each system to account for 50 per cent of the seats. (Something similar but not identical was used in 1998 and 2002 elections.)

Mungall has been an international election observer before, in Zambia in 2006. Following that experience, she added her name the registry of Canadem, the civilian reserve that oversees such delegations.

She was invited to apply for the Ukraine mission and learned this month that she had been chosen from among over 2,000 applications.

She will be away for about two weeks, first attending training sessions in Ottawa before heading to Ukraine ahead of the election.

Mungall says observers are there to report whether the election result reflects the democratic will of voters, but not to interfere or intervene.

“It’s really important to be neutral and focus on how the election itself is being conducted,” she says. “We go in without any bias towards any candidate or party and look at ‘Is this process being conducted freely and fairly?’”

However, concerns have already surfaced from long-term observers around vote-buying and pressure tactics. The former Soviet republic has a chequered electoral history, with widespread allegations of corruption.

The 2004 presidential election between Viktor Yanukovych and Victor Yuschenko in particular resulted in the political crisis known as the Orange Revolution after Yuschenko’s supporters and international observers claimed the vote was rigged. A supreme court decision voided results from a run-off ballot and ordered a new vote, which Yuschenko won.

Mungall said she’s not sure exactly where she’ll be assigned, but expects it will be to one or several polling stations. In Zambia, she was stationed at the country’s largest poll, in a university.

“It was neat because people there did not take their right to vote for granted at all,” she says. “They lined up for three hours before the polls opened.”

One other eye-opener was presidential candidates campaigning in the polling stations on election day. “That’s illegal [in Canada] but all three of them did it,” she says.

The final observers’ report concluded the election was free and fair overall, but made several suggestions for streamlining the process — such as multiple booths at each polling location — which have since been adopted.

Mungall isn’t sure if any of her fellow MLAs will join her in Ukraine — Mike Farnworth was asked to apply but may not be able to go.

Canadem covers the cost of accommodation, airfare, and meals for observers.

Just Posted

Kootenay Lake ferry labour dispute ends with ratified agreement

The deal was approved by 83 per cent of members

Selkirk music students turn up the semester-end volume

Five different ensemble student bands will take the stage on Dec. 12

CP Holiday Train returning to Nelson next week

Train will stop at Lakeside Park railway crossing on Dec. 12 at 6:30 p.m.

Nelson police searching for missing woman

Heather Gunderson hasn’t been seen since Sunday

New system to keep Nakusp-area snowmobilers, caribou from meeting

GPS tracking keeps caribou safe while opening up the backcountry for sledding

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Trustees ask for more help after tearful meeting on B.C. school’s ‘toxic’ stench

Enforcement has ‘no teeth,’ school trustee says, while kids become sick

Most Read