Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized for the “very embarrassing” standing ovation the Canadian parliament gave to a Nazi SS veteran.
The 49-year-old Trudeau spent days searching for an answer to the question of why Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka was praised as a “hero” by Canadian Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota on Friday.
The Nazi served in the SS’s 14th Waffengrenadier Division during World War II, but appeared alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when he was welcomed into parliament as an apparent “Ukrainian hero.”
Three days after his parliament praised the Nazi, the embattled Trudeau – who has also been embroiled in a bitter international feud with India in recent weeks – broke his silence to admit the ovation was a “mistake”.
‘It is obviously very annoying that this has happened. “The Speaker has acknowledged his mistake and apologized, but this is something that is deeply embarrassing to the Parliament of Canada and by extension to all Canadians,” he told reporters on Monday.
Seconds after apologizing, Trudeau pivoted while railing against anti-Semitism and calling for a “blowback against Russian propaganda.”
Trudeau discussed the scandal with reporters on Monday, admitting it was “very embarrassing” before using the moment to call for a “backlash against Russian propaganda.”
On Friday, Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka was hailed as a “Ukrainian hero” in the Canadian parliament during a visit to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Hunka’s history was only revealed after he was praised alongside Zelenskyy on Friday, where the Ukrainian president traveled to bolster his country’s support in the war with Russia as it heads into the winter.
But while Zelenskyy’s speech was widely praised, people were shocked to discover Hunka’s time in the SS – one of the most feared units in the Nazi arsenal often described as “Hitler’s personal bodyguards.”
According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia‘the SS would later become both the Nazi Empire’s elite guard and Hitler’s executive branch, prepared to carry out all security-related tasks without regard to legal restrictions.’
Under mounting pressure from Jewish groups to explain how Hunka ended up being praised by Canadian lawmakers, Trudeau argued: “I think it will be very important that we all push back against Russian propaganda.”
He added that Canada would “continue our steadfast and unequivocal support for Ukraine, as we did last week with the announcement of further measures to support Ukraine in Russia’s illegal war against it.”
His move to the Russian war machine came just seconds after he apologized for the ovation, admitting it was especially insulting to “Jewish parliamentarians and all members of the Jewish community across the country who celebrate Yom – today commemorates Yom Kippur.” ‘
The scandal came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (left) addressed the Canadian parliament to bolster his country’s support in the war with Russia as the conflict heads into the winter months.
His apology came the day after Speaker Rota also repeated his praise for the Nazi officer, saying: “I regret my decision to do this and accept full responsibility for my actions.”
Rota admitted that the Canadian government had failed to properly investigate Hunka, saying he was “subsequently made aware of information that I regret” by inviting the SS veteran.
“I would especially like to offer my deepest apologies to the Jewish communities in Canada and around the world.”
Government House Speaker Karina Gould also came under fire after she posed for a photo with Hunka in the halls of parliament, but claimed she did not know his past before the photo was taken.
“Like all MPs, I had no further information than the Speaker had provided,” she said said on X.
‘When I left the Chamber, I walked past the person and took a photo. As a descendant of Jewish Holocaust survivors, I would like to ask all parliamentarians to stop politicizing an issue that is disturbing to many, including myself.”
Government House Speaker Karina Gould (left) was criticized after posing for a photo with the Nazi, but argued she did not know his history before the photo was taken
Hunka served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS during World War II, one of the most feared units in the Nazi arsenal
While Trudeau has come under scrutiny for his three-day delay in condemning the ovation, Gould jumped to his defense, saying the government was unaware of Hunka’s invitation, claiming it was thanks to Rota.
“The chairman has now made it clear that he was responsible for inviting this person to the House of Representatives,” she says said on X.
‘The government played no role. It didn’t know he would be there. The Prime Minister has not met him. I am deeply disturbed that this has happened. I urge MPs not to politicize this incident.”
Trudeau’s admission came under increasing pressure from Jewish groups to explain the embarrassing moment, with the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) raising demands for an apology.
“FSWC is shocked that the Canadian parliament gave a standing ovation to a Ukrainian veteran who served in a Nazi military unit during World War II and was involved in the mass murder of Jews and others,” the group said. said on Xformerly Twitter.
“An apology and explanation are in order.”
“The fact that a veteran who served in a Nazi military unit was invited to and given a standing ovation in parliament is shocking,” the FSWC added in a statement.
‘At a time of increasing anti-Semitism and distortion of the Holocaust, it is incredibly disturbing to see the Canadian parliament stand up to applaud an individual who was a member of a unit of the Waffen-SS, a Nazi military branch that responsible for the murder of Jews and others. which was declared a criminal organization during the Nuremberg trials.
“There should be no confusion that this unit was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable.”
The group also called for an apology to “every Holocaust survivor and veteran of World War II who fought against the Nazis,” which was echoed by the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which said it was “deeply disturbed” by the incident.
The CIJA leadership noted Trudeau’s reference to “Russian propaganda” in its rebuke, adding: “Canada’s Jewish community stands firmly with Ukraine in its war against Russian aggression… But we cannot remain silent in the face of crimes committed are whitewashed by Ukrainians during the Holocaust.’