Canada’s Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, has apologized for praising Yaroslav Hunka as a “Ukrainian hero”.
On Friday, Rota organized an event at the Canadian Parliament to praise Hunka, a 98 years-old Ukrainian Nazi veteran who fought in the ranks of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the Nazi SS during the Second World War, with a standing ovation by the entire Canadian legislature and with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in attendance.
In a statement on Sunday, Rota expressed his “deepest apologies” over the event, which he claimed was all his fault.
The Parliament Speaker said that he had “subsequently become aware of more information” which caused him to “regret” his recognition of Hunka, adding that, “This initiative was entirely my own.”
Separately, the prime minister’s office denied any involvement in the event. In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, Trudeau’s office reiterated its independence from that of the Speaker of the House, claiming it had received no notice about Hunka’s recognition prior to the event.
In the meantime, Pierre Poilievre, Canada’s opposition leader, slammed the Trudeau administration for showing support for the Ukrainian Nazi veteran.
The PM’s “personal protocol office is responsible for arranging and vetting all guests and programming for state visits of this kind,” the Conservative leader wrote on X, calling on the prime minister to “personally apologize.”
“It has come out today that Justin Trudeau personally met with and honored a veteran of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (a Nazi division). Liberals then arranged for this Nazi veteran to be recognized on the floor of the House of Commons during the visit of the Ukrainian president,” Poilievre wrote in a post on Saturday.
He called the event at Parliament an “appalling error in judgment” on the part of Trudeau himself.
“No parliamentarians (other than Justin Trudeau) had the opportunity to vet this individual’s past before he was introduced and honored on the floor of the House of Commons. Without warning or context, it was impossible for any parliamentarian in the room (other than Mr. Trudeau) to know of this dark past,” he explained.