Yuri Shymko

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Yuri Shymko
Copy of DSC00212.JPG
Left to right: Yuri Shymko, with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, and Yuri's daughter, Lisa Shymko
Member of Provincial Parliament
In office
Preceded by Ed Ziemba
Succeeded by David Fleet
Constituency High Park-Swansea
Federal Member of Parliament
In office
Preceded by Stanley Haidasz
Succeeded by Jesse Flis
Constituency Parkdale
Personal details
Born (1940-09-06) September 6, 1940 (age 76)
Cosel, Province of Silesia, (Germany) modern Koźle, Poland
Political party Progressive Conservative (Canada), 1978-1979
Progressive Conservative (Ontario), 1981-1987
Spouse(s) Stephanie Kowal
Children 2
Residence Toronto, Ontario
Occupation Consultant

Yuri Shymko (Cyrillic: Юрій Шимко, born September 6, 1940) is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. He was a Progressive Conservative Party member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1978 to 1979 representing the downtown Toronto riding of Parkdale. From 1981 to 1987 he served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario representing the riding of High Park-Swansea.

As of 2015, Shymko is President of the International Council in Support of Ukraine which coordinates Ukrainian NGO's in North America, Europe, South America, and Australia.


Shymko was born in Cosel, Province of Silesia, Germany (modern Koźle, part of Kędzierzyn-Koźle, in Poland). He is the grandnephew of the renowned Ukrainian poet and social activist, Ivan Franko, whose granddaughter, Hanna Klyuchko, lived in Canada. Shymko's family moved to Belgium, where he received his early education in a private school operated by the Catholic Redemptorist Fathers. He moved to Canada as a teenager and went to the University of Toronto where he graduated with a degree in modern history and languages. After university he worked as a high school teacher at Victoria Park Secondary School.[1] He is the author of "For This Was I Born", a book that addressed the violation of human rights in the former Soviet Union.

Shymko is fluent in several languages, including English, French, Ukrainian, and Russian. Yuri Shymko is married to the former Stephanie Kowal. They have two daughters, Lisa and Natalie.

From 1973 to 1978 he was Secretary-General of the Ukrainian World Congress and later served as president from 1988 to 1993.[2][3]

Shymko is the recipient of a number of Canadian and international awards, including the Outstanding Service Award from the Reena Foundation (1985), which serves the needs of the Jewish community's handicapped children. In 1997, Shymko's support for the francophonie was recognized when he was officially inducted as an Officer of the Order of La Pléiade by the International Assembly of French Speaking Parliamentarians (1997). Shymko was inducted into the Ordre de la Pléiade together with Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau and Ontario Court of Appeal Justice, Roy McMurtry.[4]


Shymko ran for the Ontario legislature in the 1971 provincial election, as a candidate for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, in the riding of High Park. He was defeated by New Democrat Party incumbent Morton Shulman by 7,281 votes.[5] In the 1975 election he ran again in the same riding against NDP candidate Ed Ziemba. he was defeated by 1,773 votes.[6]

In 1978, Shymko was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in a by-election held on October 16, 1978, defeating future cabinet minister Art Eggleton by 1,038 votes in Parkdale.[1] He served for seven months as a member of the official opposition acting as the Human Rights critic. For the 1979 federal election, his riding was redistributed into the newly formed Parkdale—High Park electoral district. On May 22, 1979, following a highly contested race, and an electoral re-count, he lost to Liberal Jesse Flis by 74 votes.[7]

With the backing of the Canadian Government, he personally launched a historic initiative before the United Nations for the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union. On November 21, 1978, he presented to the President of the UN General Assembly and its member missions a Memorandum on the Decolonization of the USSR which he coordinated on behalf of the Baltic, Belarusian, and Ukrainian World Congresses.[citation needed]

In the 1981 provincial election, Shymko defeated Ed Ziemba by 2,680 votes.[8] For the next four years, he served in the legislature as a backbench supporter of the Bill Davis and Frank Miller administrations.

Shymko was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Community Services. He also chaired the standing committee on Social Development which published a report on violence against women.[9] He also sponsored several Private Member's Bills. In 1986, through a PMB, he was successful in having Stalin Township in Northern Ontario renamed as Hansen Township in honour of paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen.[10]

The Progressive Conservatives were reduced to a minority government in the 1985 election, and were defeated in the legislature in June 1985. Shymko retained his seat, defeating NDP candidate Elaine Ziemba by 401 votes.[11] After initially supporting Grossman, he endorsed Alan Pope for the party leadership in late 1985.[12]

He lost to Liberal David Fleet by 814 votes in the 1987 election.[13]

International experience[edit]

In 1988, Shymko was appointed by the Government of Canada to serve on the Federal Immigration and Refugee Board (1988–1993).[14]

In August 1991, as president of the Ukrainian World Congress, he urged the Canadian government to recognize the newly independent country of Ukraine.[3] Shymko, who was still a member of the refugee board, was admonished by the board chairman that such lobbying activities placed him in a conflict of interest and were incompatible with his duties as a member of the board. Shymko argued that his participation with the UWC was as an unpaid volunteer and that he had asked to not participate in any refugee claims from the former Soviet Union. Shymko said, "If I'm in contravention of the law, I would have been told a long time ago."[15]

Between 1999 and 2004, Shymko served as an election observer for several Presidential and Parliamentary elections in Ukraine. He is an expert on Ukraine's Crimea region, having been responsible for overseeing the OSCE's Long-term Observer Mission in Crimea during the 2002 parliamentary elections in Ukraine.[citation needed]

In 2007, Shymko was appointed for a three-year term by the Stephen Harper government to the Employment Insurance Board of Referees. In 2010, his appointment was extended until June 26, 2013.[citation needed]

In November 2013, he was elected President of an international coordinating body for NGO's, the International Council in Support of Ukraine (ICSU), which is headquartered in Toronto, Canada.


  1. ^ a b Claridge, Thomas (October 17, 1978). "Liberal bastion falls to Tory tide Eggleton beaten but unbowed as Shymko cites Polish papacy". The Globe and Mail. p. 9. 
  2. ^ "Moroz to be invited to remain in Canada". The Globe and Mail. April 30, 1979. p. 4. 
  3. ^ a b Ryan, Beth (August 2, 1991). "Metro's Ukrainians in favor of independence". Toronto Star. p. A13. 
  4. ^ "Yuri Shymko (president's message)". International Council in Support of Ukraine. 2014. 
  5. ^ "Riding-by-riding returns in provincial election". The Globe and Mail. October 23, 1971. p. 10. 
  6. ^ "Table of vote results for all Ontario ridings". The Globe and Mail. September 19, 1975. p. C12. 
  7. ^ "Counting the votes: The Liberals watch from their Quebec fortress...as Conservatives sweep most of the West". The Globe and Mail. May 24, 1979. pp. 10–11. 
  8. ^ Canadian Press (March 20, 1981). "Election results for Metro Toronto". The Windsor Star. Windsor, Ontario. p. 22. 
  9. ^ Standing Committee on Social Development (1982). "Wife battering: First report on family violence". Legislative Assembly of Ontario. 
  10. ^ "Wheelchair hero circles the globe". The Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Va. AP. 1986-11-08. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Results of vote in Ontario election". The Globe and Mail. May 3, 1985. p. 13. 
  12. ^ "Grossman backer shifts to Alan Pope". Toronto Star. November 6, 1985. p. A11. 
  13. ^ "Results from individual ridings". The Windsor Star. September 11, 1987. p. F2. 
  14. ^ Serge, Joe (September 2, 1988). "Author, former MPP among new refugee board members". Toronto Star. p. A16. 
  15. ^ Oziewicz, Estanislao (October 30, 1991). "Immigration board member lobbied PM Letter had warned leader of Ukrainian world congress to steer clear of conflicts of interest". The Globe and Mail. p. A7. 

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