An advocacy association for the Jewish community in Canada has demanded an apology from Ottawa after a Ukrainian who fought with the Nazis during World War II was honored in Parliament during President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent visit.
The Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) said in a statement on Sunday that they were “deeply disturbed by the fact that the Canadian Parliament has recognized a Ukrainian veteran who served in a Nazi military unit during the Second World War.” On Friday, on the occasion of the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the Canadian capital, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, greeted Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian immigrant, from the rostrum. “He is a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for his service,” he said in the House, drawing a warm ovation from deputies.
“These remarks “ignore the fact that Mr. Hunka served in the 14th SS Waffen Grenadier Division, a Nazi military unit whose crimes against humanity during the Holocaust are well documented,” the FSWC organization denounced.
On Sunday, the Speaker of the House – a liberal MP – apologized for having introduced and honored Hunka two days earlier: “On Friday (…) after the President of Ukraine’s speech, I greeted someone in the gallery and then I became aware of new information that they make me regret having done it“Anthony Rota stated in a written statement. “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office denied any involvement in the matter, reiterating its independence from that of the Speaker of the House.
“Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Ukrainian delegation had been informed in advance of the invitation or the recognition,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement broadcast Sunday night on X (formerly Twitter) by one of those responsible Justin Trudeau’s press release. But this did not prevent the leader of the official opposition, Pierre Poilièvre, who leads Justin Trudeau in the polls, from report a “serious error of judgment”. “His protocol office is responsible for organizing and approving all guests and state visit programs of this type,” the conservative leader reacted.