NEW YORK: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau apologised on Wednesday on behalf of Canada’s parliament after lawmakers were asked to honour a man who was a member of the Nazis’ feared Waffen SS division, reported German Press Agency (dpa).
Canada’s Parliamentary speaker Anthony Rota resigned on Tuesday after after asking lawmakers to honour Yaroslav Hunka in comments coinciding with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Ottawa on Friday. Hunka, 98, was given a standing ovation and referred to as a “Ukrainian hero.”
But Rota later found out Hunka had actually served under the Nazis against the Soviets.
“This was a mistake that has deeply embarrassed Parliament and Canada. All of us who were in this House on Friday regret deeply having stood and clapped even though we did so unaware of the context,” Trudeau said.
“It was a horrendous violation of the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust,” he said, adding that it was also “deeply, deeply painful” to those targeted by the Nazi regime in World War II.
“I also want to reiterate how deeply sorry Canada is for the situation this put President Zelensky and the Ukrainian delegation in,” Trudeau said.
“It is extremely troubling to think that this egregious error is being politicised by Russia, and its supporters, to provide false propaganda about what Ukraine is fighting for,” Trudeau said.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year and Moscow has repeatedly referred to Kyiv’s leadership as neo-Nazis, an accusation the international community has ridiculed.
During World War II, Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera collaborated with the Nazis against the Soviet Union and set up the Ukrainian National Army. He was murdered by KGB agents in Munich in 1959.