The speaker of Canada's parliament apologized Sunday after he singled out a Ukrainian veteran alleged to have fought for the Nazis during World War II for a standing ovation during a visit by Ukraine's leader.

The applause came as President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the Canadian parliament on Friday, as Speaker of the House Anthony Rota paid homage to Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian immigrant.

Rota hailed Hunka as "a Ukrainian Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians" and "a Ukrainian hero and a Canadian hero."

The remarks ignore "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," the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) said Sunday.

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The Jewish advocacy group called the incident "shocking" and "incredibly disturbing".

"An apology is owed to every Holocaust survivor and veteran of the Second World War who fought the Nazis, and an explanation must be provided as to how this individual entered the hallowed halls of Canadian Parliament and received recognition from the Speaker of the House and a standing ovation," it continued.

Rota, a Liberal MP, apologized on Sunday, saying that he had "subsequently become aware of more information" which caused him to "regret" his recognition of Hunka.

"This initiative was entirely my own ... I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world," he said.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office denied any involvement in the affair, reiterating its independence from that of the Speaker of the House and saying in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, that neither it nor the Ukrainian delegation had any advance notice of the incident.

That did not stop the leader of the opposition, Pierre Poilievre, from slamming an "error in judgement."

Trudeau's "personal protocol office is responsible for arranging and vetting all guests and programming for state visits of this kind," the Conservative leader posted on X, calling on the prime minister to "personally apologize."

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Comments (2)

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John
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I always respect when a politician apologies with sincerity after making a mistake. Does not make the error acceptable particularly when others are negatively impacted, but raises the persons' credibility as being an empathetic human,, that they at least recognize what was done cannot not repeated because it was wrong. Contrast Canada's democratic leaderships' humble response to that of an authoritarian leader (or MAGA type folks), which you will never hear admit a mistake in their judgement. They instead dig their hole of misdeeds deeper, and try to divert attention from their poor judgement by ranting about others morality.

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Volodya
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A tiresome argument. Unfortunately, the members of the Waffen SS 14th division are forever targeted as nazi sympathizers. I encourage those interested to read the excellent book that was just published by retired Professor Myroslav Shkandrij:

In the Maelstrom: The Waffen-SS "Galicia" Division and Its Legacy

He goes to great lengths to deal with the many allegations of war crimes (basically all disproven), and how all Ukrainians in German uniforms were often lumped in with his military unit (and yes, some of these other units have been implicated in war crimes). He goes to great lengths detailing the motives for those who joined the Division (and later shanghaied into it after the Battle of Brody). Of course, none had to do with any belief in Adolf Hitler. He also describes the non-cooperation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center when requested to provide further documentation of alleged war crimes. Of course, don't forget the Deschenes Commission of the 1980s which failed (as had all earlier investigations) to find any guilt of the Division in any alleged war crimes. The most that can be said is numerous individuals did end up at the end of World War 2 within the remnants of the Division, so individual perpetrators could potentially been present in the final tally of combatants. It is most unfortunate that no matter what the research shows, the Ukrainian Halychyna Division will forever be tainted by it's association with Nazi Germany.

PAUL
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@Volodya,
What pathetic excuses. If you join the SS (voluntarily, because people went to the SS only voluntarily), you are an SS criminal. The sooner Ukraine stops honoring the genocides of the SS Galizien, UP and OWN, the better for it.

PAUL
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@PAUL,
UPA and OUN ofcourse not UP and OWN.

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Volodya
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@PAUL, Wrong! After the battle of Brody, the reconstituted division was manned by anyone the Germans could lay their hands on. They weren't asked whether they wanted to join the division. Perhaps you should read Maelstrom and then pontificate from your cozy armchair!

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