Running for public office municipally in the Beach (as Chris Yaccato did in 2003), helping organize a mayoralty campaign, working for a provincial candidate, and serving as executive assistant to the Speaker of the Ontario Legislature looked good on his resume when Yaccato applied to be part of the Canadian team monitoring parliamentary elections in Ukraine on Oct. 28. He is one of 430 Canadians chosen.
Canada was invited by Ukraine to send observers. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism accepted on behalf of the federal government. The monitoring team is organized by the non-profit group CANADEM, dedicated to advancing international peace and security. Financial support comes from CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which covers travel and accommodation costs. The observers volunteer their time. They will be away for ten days.
When Yaccato heard about the mission in August, he applied online, and was accepted in late September. Meanwhile, he took a course on how to prepare for working with agencies abroad. Topics included what to do if you find yourself in a mine field or are taken hostage. He flew to Ottawa on Oct. 18 for a briefing and training.
When the observers fly into Kiev, they will receive more training before being dispatched to each oblast (administrative region), to the two metropolitan areas of Kiev and Sevastopol, or to the autonomous republic of Crimea, to monitor the elections.
“We will be there to observe, record and report, not to interfere,” said Yaccato.
The mission is to see whether the elections genuinely reflect the wishes of Ukrainian voters.
“I feel honoured to have been chosen,” said Yaccato.