Justin Trudeau said it is “important to push back on Russian propaganda” when he heard in the Canadian parliament that a Nazi would be honored.
The prime minister was questioned by reporters on Monday after 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka was hailed as a Ukrainian-Canadian war hero during President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to parliament on Friday.
Trudeau admitted it was “extremely disturbing that this happened,” blamed the Speaker of the House for the “error” — but then launched into a message about “Russian disinformation.”
The Liberal Party leader said: “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 added: “I think it will be very important that we all stand up against Russian propaganda and Russian disinformation, and continue our steadfast and unequivocal support for Ukraine.”
Justin Trudeau has said it is important to push back against Russian propaganda when questioned about the blunder in which Parliament honored a man who fought for the Nazis in World War II.
Lawmakers in the Canadian parliament gave Hunka a standing ovation. It subsequently emerged that Hunka had actually served in a division of the Nazi SS during the war.
The Russians have seized on Hunka’s appearance as evidence that Ukraine is under Nazi control, justifying his invasion last year.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday accused Canadians of having “such a careless attitude towards memory” and called the situation “abhorrent.”
Russia’s ambassador to Canada, Oleg Stepanov, claimed the invitation to the former Nazi was no coincidence, calling the Canadian government “essentially the personification of neoliberal fascism.”
Anthony Rota, the Speaker of the House of Commons and Liberal MP, apologized yesterday for the spectacle, saying he had “subsequently become aware of more information” that made him “regret” his recognition of Hunka.
The speaker’s speech came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an impassioned speech to Canada’s House of Commons.
Speaking of Rota’s apology, a statement on behalf of Trudeau said: “This was the right thing to do.
“No prior notification was given to the Prime Minister’s Office, nor to the Ukrainian delegation, about the invitation or the recognition,” the prime minister’s team said.
The Ukrainian president had been in Ottawa to drum up even more support from Western allies for his country’s war against Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly described Ukrainian troops as neo-Nazis.
Rota, 62, said in his statement yesterday: ‘In my remarks following the speech of the President of Ukraine, I recognized a person in the stands.
Hunka was honored as ‘a Ukrainian-Canadian’ war hero during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to parliament on Friday
Russian officials took the opportunity to repeat their false claim that Russia had invaded Ukraine to “denazify” the nation, which Vladimir Putin claims is controlled by pro-Western neo-Nazis.
‘I subsequently became aware of more information that made me regret my decision to do so.’
He continued to insist that it was his idea to honor Hunka.
“This initiative was entirely my own… I would especially like to offer my deepest apologies to the Jewish communities in Canada and around the world,” he said.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies issued a statement Sunday saying the division was “responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians at a level of cruelty and malice that is unimaginable.”
“An apology is owed to every Holocaust survivor and World War II veteran who fought the Nazis, and an explanation must be given as to how this individual entered the hallowed halls of Canada’s Parliament and gained recognition from the Speaker of the House of Representatives and a standing ovation,” the statement said.
Hunka, who lives in North Bay, Ontario, fought on the Eastern Front against the Red Army.
In an online blog written more than ten years ago, Hunka described the period between 1941 and 1943 as the happiest of his life.
The 14th Waffengrenadier Division of the SS – also known as the 1st Galician – was composed largely of Ukrainian volunteers.
It was founded in 1943 and saw action on the Eastern Front. His main role was to support the German troops in their fight against the Soviet Union.