Meeting with Peter Goldring, MP for Edmonton East

goldringOn February 20, 2015, representatives of the Russian Congress of Canada and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad had the pleasure of meeting with Peter Goldring, Member of Parliament for Edmonton East.

Peter Goldring shared his UKRAINE MISSION REPORT which he compiled after his trip to Ukraine on May 7- June 1, 2014 and presented to the Canadian Parliament.

The Very Rev. Fr. Vladimir Malchenko, Rector of the Holy Trinity parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Toronto, voiced his concerns on the situation with respect to the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and the abusive treatment of its clergy by the ultra-nationalist organization “Right Sector”, as well as by Ukrainian central and local authorities, and by the representatives of the self –proclaimed “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kievan Patriarchate”, a body which is not recognized by other Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, or by the head of the international Orthodox community, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Fr. Vladimir Malchenko also conveyed the concerns of his parishioners over the fact that Canadian mainstream media and Canadian officials have consistently concealed the atrocities committed by the Ukrainian Army and nationalist paramilitary battalions supported by the government in Kiev against the population in the Donbass region. According to the UN and OSCE reports, more than six thousand civilians, including children and women, have been killed as a result of indiscriminate bombardment by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

As a consequence of this unfair coverage of the events in the media, the newly created Russian Congress of Canada aims to bring the truth about the civil war in Ukraine to the attention of Canadians.

Valentine Lossev, President of Russian Congress of Canada, gave his perspective on the current political climate in Canada, which, in his opinion, has been largely created through intense lobbying of the Canadian authorities at various levels by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC).  As a result of this lobbying, Canada has contributed more than $568 million in assistance to Ukraine, including two $200-million, low-interest loans to help stabilize the economy since January 2014 and will further deliver $7.1 million in support to Ukraine. MP Goldring, in his turn, mentioned UCC’s advisory role to the members of the Canadian Parliament.

MP Goldring said that he sees the solution to the religious problem in Ukraine in unification of the three Orthodox churches currently acting within the territory of Ukraine, under a “Kievan Patriarchate”.  However, the Very Rev. Fr. Vladimir Malchenko noted that the existing, self-styled Kievan Patriarchate has no canonical standing under Orthodox Church rules, and is therefore, from an Orthodox point of view, illegal. Fr.Malchenko also indicated that, while the secular governments of Canada and Ukraine may want to promote separation of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church from its mother church (the Moscow Patriarchate) in order to achieve the so-called ‘integrity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches in Ukraine’, this was an internal legal issue for the Orthodox church alone, and it was highly inappropriate for Canada’s Religious Freedom Ambassador, or any government – especially a foreign one, to interfere in internal Orthodox church affairs or meddle with its canonical traditions.

Fr.Malchenko also raised the issue regarding his open letter to Canada’s Religious Freedom Ambassador Andrew Bennett,  that was handed in the autumn 2014, had not been answered yet.

The participants expressed their desire to work together for better understanding of the current situation in Ukraine and  for further dialogue with the office of the Canadian Ambassador for Religious Freedom regarding this matter, with the hope that the material provided to MP Goldring at the meeting, would be presented to the Canadian parliamentary committee in an objective manner, and  would hopefully continue further discussion and investigation into this issue, perhaps, involving  a representative who could confirm the evidence that had been provided to him by Fr.Malchenko.