Zelensky latest in long list of world leaders to address Parliament, third Ukrainian president


When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Parliament on Tuesday, he will be the third Ukrainian president to do so, joining a long list of world leaders and dignitaries to give a joint address to Canadian parliamentarians.

The address will be an opportunity for MPs, senators, and other special guests and government officials to hear directly from Zelensky in Ukraine on what that country is experiencing as it continues to defend itself from attacks ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zelensky has garnered international accolades for his leadership in this moment, and continues to call on allied countries to offer his country further assistance, from military to humanitarian, while expressing thanks for the support offered to date.

He is not the first Ukrainian leader to come to Canadian policymakers with similar sentiments. His predecessor Petro Poroshenko delivered an address to Parliament on Sept. 17, 2014 as part of an official visit to Canada.

In that speech—punctuated by cheers and standing ovations—Poroshenko praised Canada for its support in the face of Russia’s military incursion in eastern Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea, and said that his country was “bleeding for its independence and its territorial integrity.”

Previous to that, on May 26, 2008 as part of a state visit, then-president Victor Yushchenko spoke about how democracy had “taken over” as the former Soviet republic pushed to assert independence following the Orange Revolution of 2004. He also expressed his gratitude for Canada supporting that country’s ongoing bid for NATO membership.

“Right now, I am overwhelmed with profound, sincere, absolutely light-filled feelings toward your country, towards this land. For me, like millions of Ukrainians, this country, this land is sacred,” Yushchenko said.

Zelensky’s address will not be preceded by the same degree of pomp and circumstance, including the on-arrival greeting by House and Senate officials, and the walk through Confederation Hall with the prime minister, given he will be the first world leader to appear virtually.

He’ll be the first to make his remarks inside the temporary West Block House of Commons, with the last world leader to speak to members of the House and Senate being Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte in 2018, which took place in the now under-renovation Centre Block.

Here’s the full list of dignitaries who have delivered a joint address to Parliament since 1940s:

  • December 30, 1941: Winston Churchill, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • June 16, 1943: Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Spouse of the Leader of the Republic of China
  • June 1, 1944: John C. Curtin, Prime Minister, Australia
  • June 30, 1944: Peter Fraser, Prime Minister, New Zealand
  • November 19, 1945: Clement R. Attlee, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • June 11, 1947: Harry S. Truman, President, United States
  • October 24, 1949: Pandit Jewaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister, India
  • May 31, 1950: Liaquat Ali Khan, Prime Minister, Pakistan
  • April 5, 1951: Vincent Auriol, President, French Republic
  • November 14, 1953: Dwight D. Eisenhower, President, United States
  • February 6, 1956: Sir Anthony Eden, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • March 5, 1956: Giovanni Gronchi, President, Republic of Italy
  • June 5, 1956: Achmed Sukarno, President, Republic of Indonesia
  • March 4, 1957: Guy Mollet, Prime Minister, French Republic
  • June 2, 1958: Theodor Heuss, President, Federal Republic of Germany
  • June 13, 1958: Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • July 9, 1958: Dwight D. Eisenhower, President, United States
  • July 21, 1958: Kwame Nkrumah, Prime Minister, Ghana
  • May 17, 1961: John F. Kennedy, President, United States
  • May 26, 1964: U Thant, Secretary-General, United Nations
  • April 14, 1972: Richard M. Nixon, President, United States
  • March 30, 1973: Luis Echeverria, President, Mexico
  • June 19, 1973: Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister, India
  • May 5, 1980: Masayoshi Ohira, Prime Minister, Japan
  • May 26, 1980: José Lopez Portillo, President, Mexico
  • March 11, 1981: Ronald W. Reagan, President, United States
  • September 26, 1983: Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • January 17, 1984: Zhao Ziyang, Premier, State Council, People’s Republic of China
  • May 8, 1984: Miguel de la Madrid, President, Mexico
  • March 7, 1985: Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary-General, United Nations
  • January 13, 1986: Yasuhiro Nakasone, Prime Minister, Japan
  • April 6, 1987: Ronald W. Reagan, President, United States
  • May 25, 1987: François Mitterand, President, French Republic
  • May 10, 1988: Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
  • June 16, 1988: Helmut Kohl, Chancellor, Federal Republic of Germany
  • June 22, 1988: Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • February 27, 1989: Chaim Herzog, President, State of Israel
  • October 11, 1989: His Majesty King Hussein Bin Talal, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • June 18, 1990: Nelson Mandela, Deputy President, African National Congress
  • April 8, 1991: Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President, Mexico
  • June 19, 1992: Boris Yeltsin, President, Federation of Russia
  • February 23, 1995: William J. Clinton, President, United States
  • June 11, 1996: Ernesto Zedillo, President, Mexico
  • September 24, 1998: Nelson Mandela, President, Republic of South Africa
  • April 29, 1999: Vaclav Havel, President, Czech Republic
  • February 22, 2001: Tony Blair, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • March 9, 2004: Kofi Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations
  • October 25, 2004: Vicente Fox Quesada, President, Mexico
  • May 18, 2006: John Howard, Prime Minister, Australia
  • September 22, 2006: Hamid Karzaï, President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  • May 26, 2008: Victor Yushchenko, President, Ukraine
  • May 27, 2010: Felipe Calderón, President, Mexico
  • September 22, 2011: David Cameron, Prime Minister, United Kingdom
  • February 27, 2014: His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims
  • September 17, 2014: Petro Poroshenko, President, Ukraine
  • November 3, 2014: François Hollande, President, French Republic
  • June 29, 2016: Barack H. Obama, President, United States
  • April 12, 2017: Malala Yousafzai, Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize
  • October 25, 2018: Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands

Source: House of Commons

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