Updated 09/28/23 at 11:51 a.m.
The scene caused Canada “deep embarrassment”. Last Friday, during Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Ottawa, MPs from all parties, Justin Trudeau, his government and Volodymyr Zelensky, of Jewish faith, stood in Parliament to applaud Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran. However, the latter is accused of having fought in the SS. What the Canadian Parliament was obviously not aware of.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to MPs on Wednesday “sincerely for the situation in which President Zelensky and the Ukrainian delegation found themselves.” He particularly described this honor as a “terrible mistake” and a “violation of the memory of those who suffered cruelly under the Nazi regime.” The prime minister also noted that Ottawa had already contacted Kyiv and President Zelensky to apologize.
Anthony Rota “solely responsible”
Ottawa has been under pressure for several days over this affair, which Conservative opposition leader Pierre Poilievre described as “the biggest diplomatic embarrassment” in the country’s history. However, the Prime Minister recalled that “the only person responsible” was the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, who “took responsibility” and tendered his resignation on Tuesday.
It was the latter who applauded Yaroslav Hunka and presented him as a “Ukrainian hero” from his constituency. According to the Canadian Jewish community advocacy group Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC), Jaroslaw Hunka served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Nazi military unit whose crimes against humanity during the Holocaust are well documented.