On Sunday, the Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota apologized for his decision to honor 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka in front of the Canadian Parliament after it was revealed that the Ukrainian fought with the Nazi Waffen-SS during the Second World War.
In a post on X, Rota said, "On September 22, in the House of Commons, I recognized an individual in the gallery. I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to do so."
"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," he added. "This initiative was entirely my own, the individual in question being from my riding and having been brought to my attention."
"I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my actions," Rota concluded.
Some have questioned whether Rota was truly the only person behind the matter; Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre laid the blame on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
On Friday, the Canadian Parliament along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky gave Hunka a standing ovation during the joint session of Parliament in Ottowa. Hunka was a guest of Zelensky, who was lobbying the Canadian government for more military aid to assist in their war against Russia.
It was revealed that Hunka was a soldier with the 14th "Galicia" division of the Waffen-SS, the military section of the Nazi SS. The group was responsible for elements of terror from massive extermination camps to the daily torture and repression of citizens within occupied Europe and was later declared a criminal organization during the Nuremberg trials.
Hunka immigrated to Canada after World War II where he fought with the First Ukrainian division. The Galicia division was later renamed in 1945 with a Ukrainian name to avoid connecting it to the Waffen-SS.
In his speech on Friday, Speaker Rota proudly proclaimed that Huka was a "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." However, during the Second World War, Canada was allies of Russia and would have been considered an enemy of Hunka.
The Canadian government committed to spending $650 million in a "multi-year commitment that provides predictable, steady support to Ukraine" for their war effort.
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