Justin Trudeau offers his “deepest apologies” after mistakenly paying tribute to a former Nazi soldier in Parliament

The Prime Minister described this tribute, during Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit, as a “terrible mistake” and a “violation of the memory of those who cruelly suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime”.



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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a speech on the occasion of Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to Canada, September 22, 2023 in Toronto.  (KATHERINE KY CHENG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

He mentioned the“Canada’s deep embarrassment”. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented, Wednesday, September 27, his “deepest apologies” for the tribute paid in Parliament to a Ukrainian veteran who fought with the Nazis during Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Canada. Justin Trudeau apologized to all MPs “for the situation in which President Zelensky and the Ukrainian delegation were placed.”

Unaware of the details of his past,MPs from all parties, Justin Trudeau, his government and Volodymyr Zelensky stood up to applaud Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran accused of having fought in the SS. The Prime Minister described this tribute as “terrible mistake” and of “violation of the memory of those who cruelly suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime”. The Prime Minister also clarified that Ottawa had already contacted kyiv and President Zelensky to apologize.

The Speaker of the House of Commons has resigned

Canada had been under pressure for several days in this affair described as “greatest diplomatic embarrassment” of the country’s history by the leader of the conservative opposition, Pierre Poilièvre. The Prime Minister, however, recalled that “the sole responsible” was the Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, who “accepted responsibility” and submitted his resignation on Tuesday. It was the latter who had Yaroslav Hunka applauded, presenting him as a “Ukrainian hero” coming from his electoral district.

According to the Canadian Jewish community advocacy group, Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC), Yaroslav 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 and established.

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