Paul Grod's job, at least for the next week, is to save democracy in Ukraine.

Along with 149 other Canadians -- including 53 from the Toronto area -- he left for the European country yesterday to serve as an observer in the March 26 parliamentary election, Toroto Sun informed.

The Mississauga businessman played a similar role in the 2004 election, so he is trained in catching voter fraud and intimidation.

"It's up to us to stand there and say this is incorrect and I would like to see the voters list and the ballot box," Grod said, explaining how election observers thwarted assaults on democracy during the 2004 presidential vote -- and plan to do the same again.

"If there are three boxes registered, then why are there five here?"
Proud to fulfil this duty, he said information gathered by the Canadian team in 2004 helped annul that round of elections.

"I'm happy that we as Canadians are making an effort to improve things over there," Grod said.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress organized the current delegation, which paid out of pocket for transportation to and from the country, but which will receive room and board while there.

They'll have two days of training on domestic voting laws and how to spot illegal behaviour, such as ballot stuffing and turnstyling -- whereby voters are paid to slip a marked ballot into the box and return from the voting station with a blank one.

Along with 40,000 observers sent from the international community, Canadians will visit up to 1,000 of the 33,000 polling stations across Ukraine's 24 provinces.

"It's something I feel very strongly about," said Grod, a 35-year-old of Ukrainian descent. "We're doing more than just observing. Our mere presence there is a real deterrent to election fraud. "


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