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The speaker pleads ignorance after leading Zelensky in a tribute to the SS soldier

The Speaker of the Parliament of Canada [above, left] has issued an apology after praising a former Waffen SS soldier, prompting the individual to be applauded in the chamber by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.

Speaker Anthony Rota presented Yaroslav Hunka, 98 years old during a special session on Parliament Hill on Friday attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who described “Ukrainian hero, Canadian hero” Hunka as one who had “fought [for] Ukrainian Independence against the Russians” in World War II. After that, the chamber rose to its feet, including Zelensky and Trudeau, and applauded loudly, twice.

However, Hunka was quickly identified as a former member of the 14th SS Waffen Grenadier Division (1st Galicia), a well-known paramilitary formation that the Polish ambassador to Canada said sunday was “responsible for the murder of thousands of Poles and Jews”.

The sight of Zelensky applauding an SS volunteer is inconvenient for his nation’s cause, given the energy Russian propagandists have devoted to portraying the Kiev government as descendants of WWII Ukrainian fascists world Russia tells its own people that the purpose of what they euphemistically call their “special military operation” is the “denazification” of Ukraine.

Despite using his prominent platform as speaker of the house to draw attention to Hunka, who he also said was a resident of his own constituency, Rota has now pleaded ignorance of who Hunka really was. Calling the oversight “entirely mine,” Rota said he “subsequently became aware of more information that makes me regret my decision.”

Rota said that drawing attention to Hunka was his own decision and that “no one, including his fellow parliamentarians and the Ukrainian delegation” was aware of what he was going to do going forward. “I accept full responsibility for my actions,” he said, and Trudeau’s office has denied the prediction.

The remarkable failure of due diligence occurred when even a casual knowledge of the European theater of World War II would have flagged a member of the “First Ukainian Division” as worthy of a second look before being feted.

While Speaker Rota moved to take full responsibility, Canadian Conservative opposition leader Pierre Polievre alleged that Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau himself was more involved than initially revealed. Polievre wrote that: “Trudeau personally met and personally honored a veteran of the 14th SS Waffen Grenadier Division (a Nazi division)” and was involved in the process for Rota to be recognized at the table.

Polievre stated: “This is an appalling error of judgment on the part of Justin Trudeau, whose personal protocol office is responsible for organizing and vetting all guests and scheduling such state visits. . Mr. Trudeau needs to apologize personally and avoid blaming them. on others as he always does.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, center, receives a standing ovation in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Friday, Sept. 22 2023. Canada pledged new measures to help Ukraine on Friday during Zelenskiy’s first visit since the Russian invasion, including C$650 million ($482 million) over three years to supply Ukraine with 50 armored vehicles, including of medical evacuation, to be built in southwestern Ontario. Photographer: Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Waffen-SS was a paramilitary fighting force of the NSDAP, which was led by the most ideologically devoted Nazis of World War II. In addition to units manned by ethnic Germans loyal to the party, he also created volunteer corps, divisions, brigades and legions recruited from foreign and collaborationist nations. Some of these groups became known for being among the most brutal Nazi units and many were executed after the war.

the canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said of the growing controversy over the Nazi volunteer honored in parliament that this act ignored “the horrific fact that 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”.

His statement said: “The fact that a veteran who served in a Nazi military unit was invited and given a standing ovation in Parliament is shocking. At a time of growing anti-Semitism and distortion of the Holocaust, it is incredibly disturbing to see the Parliament of Canada rise to applaud an individual who was a member of a unit of the Waffen-SS, a Nazi military branch responsible for the murder of Jews and others and declared a criminal organization during the trials of Nuremberg. 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.”

Rota responded to his call for an apology on Monday in his own statement, saying: “I want in particular to extend my deepest apologies to the Jewish communities in Canada and around the world.”


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