Did the Canadian parliament praise a World War II Nazi soldier?

Did the Canadian parliament praise a World War II Nazi soldier?
Trudeau and Canada's House of Commons applaud a Nazi during parliament sitting
Cable Public Affairs Channel

Canada’s parliament has sparked controversy after giving not one, but two standing ovations to a Nazi soldier who fought in the Second World War.

The incident occurred on 22 September in Canada’s House of Commons when Yaroslav Hunka, 98, was recognised in the chamber during a visit by the Ukrainian present Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Speaker of the House, Anthony Rota, invited Hunka, a Ukrainian veteran, and labelled him a “Ukrainian hero” and a “Canadian hero”, unaware that he had fought for the Nazi party in the First Ukrainian Division.

The First Ukrainian Division was a voluntary unit, also known as Waffen-SS Galicia Division, and was under the control of the Nazis. The unit is accused of murdering Polish and Jewish civilians.

Hunka’s introduction to the chamber as “a Ukrainian Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians” was met by applause and a standing ovation from both the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Zelensky.

Rota later issued a statement apologising for his praise of Hunka, explaining he had since learned more information about the 98-year-old’s involvement in the war.

He explained, “in my remarks following the address of the president of Ukraine, I recognised an individual in the gallery.

“I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to do so.”

Rota continued, arguing that “no one, including fellow parliamentarians and the Ukraine delegation, was aware of my intention or of my remarks before I delivered them.

“This initiative was entirely my own, the individual in question being from my riding [district] and having been brought to my attention.”

He added: “I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

PM Trudeau said: “The speaker has acknowledged his mistake and has apologised, but this is something that is deeply embarrassing to the parliament of Canada and by extension, to all Canadians, I think particularly of Jewish MPs and all members of the Jewish community across the country who are celebrating, commemorating Yom Kippur today.

“I think it's going to be really important that all of us push back against Russian propaganda, Russian disinformation, and continue our steadfast and unequivocal support for Ukraine as we did last week with announcing further measures to stand with Ukraine in Russia's illegal war against it.”

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