Canadian Parliament Speaker Issues Apology for Praising WWII Veteran Accused of Nazi Ties During Zelensky’s Visit.
Ottawa, Canada, September 25, 2023: The Speaker of Canada’s Parliament has issued a public apology following uproar for applauding a Ukrainian veteran with alleged Nazi connections during President Zelensky’s visit to Canada.
The applause occurred during President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent visit to the Canadian Parliament, as Speaker of the House Anthony Rota paid tribute to Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian immigrant.
Rota’s remarks hailed Hunka 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.”
However, these comments have drawn significant criticism, as they failed to acknowledge Hunka’s alleged involvement in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Nazi military unit known for its crimes against humanity during the Holocaust, as stated by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC).
The FSWC, a Jewish advocacy group, described the incident as “shocking” and “incredibly disturbing,” demanding an apology and an explanation for how Hunka was recognized in the Canadian Parliament.
In response, Rota, a Liberal MP, issued an apology, stating that he had received additional information leading to his regret for recognizing Hunka. He particularly extended his apologies to Jewish communities worldwide.
The controversy has also raised questions about the vetting process for guests during state visits, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office denying involvement in the affair and asserting its independence from the Speaker of the House’s decisions.
Despite this denial, opposition leader Pierre Poilievre criticized the incident as an “error in judgment” and called for a personal apology from the Prime Minister.
This incident has sparked a national debate in Canada about the importance of acknowledging historical context when honoring veterans, especially those with controversial pasts.