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December 15, 2001

Ukrainian Government Delegation Completes Study of Intergovernmental Relations in Canada

The Canada Ukraine Legislative and Intergovernmental Project (CULIP) at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) has successfully organized its third study tour for a senior-level Ukrainian government delegation since the project's launch in September 2000. The working visit was part of series of activities planned for its third module on "Financial-Budgetary Mechanisms for Development of Local Territorial Communities." This module focuses on assisting Ukraine in adopting laws on the administrative and territorial structure of Ukraine. Heirs to the Soviet Union’s centralized administrative system of government, Ukraine’s regions and municipalities have had limited voice in their own financial and social affairs. A legal framework outlining the relations between central and regional governments as well as their responsibilities has been on the minds of many Ukrainian lawmakers. An opportunity for Ukrainians to study the Canadian experience of two orders of government and their complex budgetary mechanisms was developed by the project.

The delegation, composed of three members of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (Parliament), three representatives from the Secretariat of Parliament, a specialist from the Cabinet of Ministers as well as representatives from Oblasts (Regions) and other experts, visited several Canadian centres from November 23 to December 4. The visit was organized by the project’s partners: the Government of Canada, and the governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. The CULIP office at CIUS coordinated the visit and Ukrainian Canadian Congress provided community liaison representatives at each location.

The organization of the program was assisted by Judy Cavanagh, the Canadian sector specialist, who participated in a series of seminars at the Ukrainian Parliament in Kyiv before the group departed for Canada. During the federal part of the program the delegation had an opportunity to hear experts explaining financial relations between Ottawa and the provinces from the national perspective. In Ottawa the delegation visited the Parliament of Canada and was briefed on the Canadian political and parliamentary system as well as its legislative process. The Honourable Stephane Dion, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Privy Council Office met with the group. His presentation was followed by a lively discussion with the Ukrainian guests, particularly those who were fluent in French. The government’s role in regional development was discussed during a meeting with Eleni Bakopanos, Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Senator Raynell Andreychuk, and Walt Lastewka, Member of Parliament. The Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada, Yurii Shcherbak, invited the delegation to the Ukrainian Embassy for a business meeting and reception.

In order to study intergovernmental relations in the provinces the delegation was divided into three groups. Each group attended seminars held by experts and government officials on various aspects of funding agreements, taxation, and investments as well as on responsibilities of different levels of government. The Manitoba group, led by Yevhen Zhovtyak, Member of Parliament and Deputy Head of the Budget Committee met with the Manitoba Minister of Finance, Honourable Gregory F. Selinger. A member of the delegation Vasyl Kuibida, Mayor of Lviv signed a Sister-City agreement between the City of Lviv and the City of Winnipeg during a reception at Winnipeg City Hall hosted by Glen Murray, Mayor of Winnipeg. A field trip to Portage la Prairie introduced the group to the work of municipal administration and its programs. The national executive of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress hosted a reception for the delegation that was attended by President Eugene Czoliy from Montreal and other executive members.

The Saskatchewan delegation led by Volodymyr Matviiev, Member of the Parliamentary Committee for Property, Privatization and Bankruptcy held meetings with officials from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs and the Ministry of Finance. The Honourable Myron Kowalsky, Speaker of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, briefed the group on the legislative process and public consultation mechanisms. A dinner was hosted by the Honourable Eric Cline, Minister of Finance.

The Alberta delegation was hosted by LeRoy Johnson, M.L.A. and member of the International Governance Office Advisory Committee. Through a series of roundtable discussions and seminars the group learned about the work of provincial departments responsible for finance, municipal affairs, economic development, and international and intergovernmental relations. The Honourable Gene Zwozdesky, Minister of Community Development and Co-Chair of the Advisory Council on Alberta Ukraine Relations also met with the delegation. The Head of the Ukrainian delegation Taras Chornovil, Member of the Parliamentary Committee for State and the Development of Local and Provincial Government, spoke during a reception for the Ukrainian community hosted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Alberta Provincial Council.

The delegation was reunited in Toronto for the last leg of the tour. During a visit to Toronto City Hall the Ukrainians learned about the amalgamation of Canada’s largest urban area and about the daily challenges of municipal government. A program prepared by the Government of Ontario focused on the legislative framework and relationship between Ontario municipalities and the Provincial Government as well as tax policies and fiscal transfers.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provides funding for the Canada Ukraine Legislative and Intergovernmental Project. Matching contributions of time and effort are provided by provincial governments and other partners. The project builds on the success of the Canada Ukraine Legislative Cooperation Project which was also administered by CIUS. Now in its second year, the project will oversee a total of six programs involving Canadian Study Tours, consultation with experts, and seminars organized for Ukrainian legislators, government officials and experts. Since 1996 CIUS and its partners have involved over 1,000 Ukrainian Members of Parliament, staff, Cabinet of Ministers and other senior government officials from Ukraine in seminars by experts, Canadian Study Tours, and other activities. The project receives high ratings by participants for being result-oriented and for drafting policy and legislation that support democratic and market reforms in Ukraine. Those interested in further information on policy and legislative proposals in Ukraine can visit the project website in Ukraine at www.culip.com.ua.

 

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