Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in a standing ovation for Yaroslav Hunka, a former Waffen-SS soldier who fought for the Nazis in World War II.
The Canadian Parliament honored Hunka on Friday, with House Speaker Anthony Rota referring to the World War II Nazi as a Canadian-Ukrainian war hero.
“We have here in the chamber today a Ukrainian-Canadian veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today, even at his age of 98,” Rota said to thunderous applause. “He’s a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service. Thank you.”
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, an advocacy agent of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA representing Jewish Federations across Canada, condemned the celebration.
“We are deeply troubled & disturbed that a Ukrainian veteran of the infamous 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the Nazi SS – which actively participated in the genocide of Jews – was celebrated with a standing ovation in the Canadian Parliament. #Canada’s Jewish community stands firmly with #Ukraine in its war against Russian aggression. But we can’t stay silent when crimes committed by Ukrainians during the Holocaust are whitewashed,” the group wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Canadian nonprofit that seeks to educate people on the Holocaust, demanded an apology and an explanation for giving a “standing ovation to a Ukrainian veteran who served in a Nazi military unit during the Second World War implicated in the mass murder of Jews and others.”
“The fact that a veteran who served in a Nazi military unit was invited to and given a standing ovation in Parliament is shocking. At a time of rising antisemitism and Holocaust distortion, it is incredibly disturbing to see Canada’s Parliament rise to applaud an individual who was a member of a unit in the Waffen-SS, a Nazi military branch responsible for the murder of Jews and others and that was declared a criminal organization during the Nuremberg Trials,” the group added.
Rota later apologized for honoring the World War II Nazi in the Canadian Parliament.
“I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to [invite Hunka],” Rota said in a statement, according to Fox News. “I wish to make clear that no one, including fellow parliamentarians and the Ukraine delegation, was aware of my intention or of my remarks before I delivered them.”