O Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, Anthony Rota, issued a public apology, after paying tribute to a Ukrainian who served in a Nazi unit during the Second World War.
The moment in which the issue occurred last September 22, Friday, during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Canada. Yaroslav Hunka, 98, was sitting in the parliament gallery and ended up receiving a standing ovation, after Anthony Rota described him as a “hero”.
“A Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service,” Rota said pointing to Hunka.
In parliament there were also Zelensky and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
MASSIVE OUTRAGE after Canada’s parliament gave a standing ovation during Zelensky joint address Friday to Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian Nazi collaborator who served in a Nazi military unit during the Second World War implicated in the mass murder of Jews and others.… pic.twitter.com/PFWQNEoM76
— Simon Ateba (@simonstheba) September 24, 2023
In view of what happened, as highlighted by the international press, the Jewish group CIJA spoke out and said it was “deeply disturbed” by the celebration of a veteran of a Nazi unit, who participated in the genocide of Jews.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada issued a statement. “In my remarks after the President of Ukraine’s speech, I recognized an individual in the gallery. I subsequently learned more information that made me regret my decision to do so,” he said, as quoted by the BBC.
“No one, including fellow parliamentarians and the Ukrainian delegation, was aware of my intention or my remarks before I made them. This initiative was entirely mine, with the individual in question being my [distrito] riding and having been brought to my attention,” he added.
“I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to the Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my actions,” he added.
It should be noted that, during the Second World War, thousands of Ukrainians fought on Germany’s side, but many others served in the Red Army, the armed forces of the former Soviet Union.
However, CIJA welcomed “the apology issued”, something imperative to “ensure that such an unacceptable incident does not occur again”.
It should be noted that the situation led to the Canadian Prime Minister being accused of also being responsible for the incident, particularly by the conservative leader of the Canadian opposition, Pierre Poilievre. However, Trudeau’s office argued that the decision to invite Hunka was made solely by the office of the Speaker of the House of Commons, with “no advance notice” being given to “the Prime Minister’s office, nor to the Ukrainian delegation, about the invitation or recognition”.
It should be noted that also this Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized Canada’s invitation to Hunka, calling the situation “outrageous”.
“Many Western countries, including Canada, have raised a young generation that doesn’t know who fought against whom or what happened during World War II. And they don’t know anything about the threat of fascism,” Peskov said.
According to the international press, Hunka served in the 14th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division, a volunteer unit under Nazi command, during the Second World War.
During World War II, Hunka served in the 14th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division, also known as the Galician Division – a volunteer unit made up mostly of ethnic Ukrainians under Nazi command.
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