Justin Trudeau blames Nazi debacle on Speaker: PM claims his fellow Liberal MP is ‘solely responsible for the invitation and recognition’ of ex-SS soldier – and offers ‘unreserved apology’ but refuses to take questions
- Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized for giving recognition to a man who fought alongside the Nazis in World War II
- Yaroslav Hunka, 98, was invited to Parliament and praised as a Ukrainian and Canadian hero by Trudeau and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
- Speaker Anthony Rota resigned on Tuesday following the incident and apologized for inviting the man into Parliament
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized Wednesday for Parliament´s recognition of a man who fought alongside the Nazis in World War II and said former Speaker Anthony Rota was ‘solely responsible’ for the incident.
Yaroslav Hunka, 98, was invited to Parliament and praised as a Ukrainian and Canadian hero by Trudeau and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
It later emerged that Hunka had been involved in the Nazi division during World War II, prompting Speaker Anthony Rota to resign and Trudeau to apologize.
‘This is a mistake that deeply embarrassed Parliament and Canada,’ Trudeau said Wednesday in a televised address ahead of his apology in the House of Commons.
‘It was a horrendous violation of the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust and it was deeply, deeply painful for Jewish people,’ Trudeau said.
The PM did not take questions from reporters following the ‘unreserved apology.’
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (pictured far right) apologized Wednesday for Parliament´s recognition of a man who fought alongside the Nazis in World War II
Yaroslav Hunka waits for the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the House of Commons in Ottawa Friday. Right: Hunka in his SS unit in the war
‘All of us who were in the House on Friday regret deeply having stood and clapped, even though we did so unaware of the context,’ Trudeau said before he entering the House of Commons.
‘It was a horrendous violation of the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust, and was deeply, deeply painful for Jewish people.’
Trudeau repeated the apology in Parliament.
‘It also hurt Polish people, Roma people, to LGBTQI+ people, disabled people, racialized people and the many millions who were targeted by the Nazi genocide,’ the PM said.
Just after Zelenskyy delivered an address in the House of Commons on Friday, Canadian lawmakers gave Hunka a standing ovation when Speaker Rota drew attention to him.
Rota introduced Hunka as a war hero who fought for the First Ukrainian Division.
Observers over the weekend began to publicize the fact that the First Ukrainian Division also was known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis.
‘It is extremely troubling to think that this egregious error is being politicized by Russia, and its supporters, to provide false propaganda about what Ukraine is fighting for,’ Trudeau said.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that the standing ovation for Hunka was ‘outrageous,’ and he called it the result of a ‘sloppy attitude’ toward remembering the Nazi regime.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has painted his enemies in Ukraine as ‘neo-Nazis,’ although Zelenskyy is Jewish and lost relatives in the Holocaust.
Rota apologized on Sunday, saying that he had ‘subsequently become aware of more information’ which caused him to ‘regret’ his recognition of Hunka
Members of Parliament from all parties rose to applaud Hunka. A spokesperson for the Conservative party said the party was not aware of his history at the time
The Ukrainian politician’s visit came as part of the two country’s continued alliance against Russia, and after he secured year another multimillion-dollar aide package from the US
The speaker of Canada ‘s House of Commons has apologized for recognizing a man who allegedly fought for the Nazi SS during World War II . Anthony Rota had hailed 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka (above) as ‘a Ukrainian Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians’ and ‘a Ukrainian hero and a Canadian hero.’
Speaker of the House Anthony Rota stepped down on Tuesday after meeting with the House of Commons´ party leaders, and after all of the main opposition parties called on him to resign.
House government leader Karina Gould said that Rota invited and recognized Hunka without informing the government or the delegation from Ukraine, and that his lack of due diligence had broken the trust of lawmakers.
In an earlier apology on Sunday, Rota said he alone was responsible for inviting and recognizing Hunka, who is from the district that Rota represents. The speaker´s office said it was Hunka´s son who contacted Rota´s local office to see if it was possible if he could attend Zelenskyy´s speech.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies has called the incident ‘a stain on our country´s venerable legislature with profound implications both in Canada and globally.’
Jewish advocacy group the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center called Rota’s warm introduction’ shocking’ and ‘incredibly disturbing’ and said an apology is owed to Holocaust survivors and veterans.
In 1944, Hunka’s unit – the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division – was visited by SS leader Heinrich Himmler, who branded Jewish people a ‘dirty blemish’ and said his men would be ‘eager’ to ‘liquidate the Poles’.
The division’s involvement in war crimes and atrocities – particularly during the German occupation of Ukraine – remains a point of controversy.
The speaker’s address had come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an impassioned address to the Canadian House of Commons.
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