Canadian Jewish organizations and social media critics are criticizing Canada’s parliament for applauding a man who fought for the Nazis during an event marking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the country.
“FSWC is disappointed that the Parliament of Canada applauded a Ukrainian veteran who served in a Nazi military unit during World War II, who was involved in the mass murder of Jews and others. We owe an apology and explanation,” the friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Video and photos show Canada’s parliament erupting into cheers Friday during Zelenskyy’s visit to the country’s capital, Ottawa, when Canadian lawmakers also honored Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian immigrant who fought for the 1st Ukrainian Division. according to Toronto. Star. That division was also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, which fought for the Nazis as its paramilitary arm under the Schutzstaffel organization, according to the newspaper.
“The fact that a veteran who served in a Nazi military unit was invited and given a standing ovation in Parliament is shocking. In an era of rising 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 murdering Jews and others and which was declared a criminal organization during the Nuremberg Trials,” the Simon Wiesenthal Friends Center continued in their statement.
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Canadian columnist Joe Warmington issued a “full apology” “for celebrating a World War II Nazi in the House of Commons,” in an article published Sunday in the Toronto Sun.
Local Canadian media reported that the Associated Press identified the 98-year-old in a photo caption as a veteran of the “First Ukrainian Division in World War II” and noted that other media described the man as a Ukrainian immigrant to Canada who fought for Ukrainian independence from the Russians.
The Soviet Union was instrumental in the defeat of Nazi Germany, including the Battle of Stalingrad, which marked a turning point in the war. The US State Department describes on its website that “without the remarkable efforts of the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, the United States and Great Britain would have struggled to achieve a decisive military victory over Nazi Germany.”
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said in a statement to Fox News Digital on Sunday that “the Speaker of the House has apologized and accepted full responsibility for issuing the invitation and for the acknowledgment in Parliament.”
“This was the right thing to do,” the office continued. “No advance notice was given to the prime minister’s office, nor to the Ukrainian delegation, about the invitation or recognition.”
“Canada will continue to support a free Ukraine and we were proud to host President Zelensky and reaffirm our support.”
Hunka was reportedly invited by House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota, a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, who portrayed him as a war hero, according to the Edmonton City News.
Rota’s office also provided Fox News Digital with a statement, saying the speaker regrets calling Hunka.
“Then I learned more information that makes me regret my decision [invite Hunka]”I want to make it clear that no one, including fellow MPs and the Ukrainian delegation, knew my intention or my remarks before I made them.”
The honor and applause came amid Zelensky’s first visit to Canada since Russia invaded Ukraine in February of last year.
“I have many warm words and thanks from Ukraine to you,” Zelensky told Trudeau in the Canadian prime minister’s office. “You have helped us on the battlefield, financially and with humanitarian aid…Stay with us in our victory.”
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Trudeau, who was also present Friday in the House of Commons, said Canada has provided Ukraine with about $6.7 billion in military and humanitarian support since the war began.
“Moscow must lose once and for all. And it will,” Zelensky said during his speech to parliament.