Ukraine's comedian-turned-president makes North American debut in Toronto

Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Ukraine's new president makes his North American debut in Toronto later today, more than a month before he is to visit the United States, and the country's envoy says that's no mistake.

Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, says that's an indication of just how important President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sees the ties between the two countries that have grown in the last 28 years.

Zelenskiy, a popular actor and comedian with no previous political experience, is to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a major international conference on his future that opens today, and that Canada is hosting.

Zelenskiy easily won this spring's presidential election, unseating Petro Poroshenko, and sparking concern about whether someone who played the Ukrainian president in a fictional TV drama was cut out for the actual job.

But Zelenskiy has worked quickly, dissolving his country's parliament and pushing forward with new elections for that assembly later this month, a timeline that was months ahead of its previous schedule.

Shevchenko says the three-day conference will see representatives from 30 countries participating as well as representatives from major international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.