On Sunday, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was photographed at a rally for Ukraine with a red and black scarf that appears to represent the colours of the Bandera movement, a far-right Ukrainian Nationalist movement linked to Neo-Nazis.
Also visible at the rally were many Bandera flags, representing the far-fight Ukrainian nationalist movement.
True North was first to report that Freeland posted, then deleted the photo on her own official social media accounts. The photo also showed Toronto Mayor John Tory and said, "We stand united. We stand with Ukraine. Nous sommes unis. Nous sommes debout aux côtés de l'Ukraine. Slava Ukraini!"
Stepan Bandera was a Nationalist Ukrainian politician during World War Two and has been accused of war crimes against Jews and Poles. Bandera helped form the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (UPA) which media have called "far-right" and "Neo-Nazis."
After deleting, Freeland reposted the same message on Twitter, but with a new picture where the scarf was removed.
Freeland is Ukrainian-Canadian, and as the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, many wondered why someone with knowledge of Ukrainian and international politics would be willing to be photographed with and post a picture of, the symbol of such a group.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, "Freeland’s granddad was, indeed, a Nazi collaborator" in Ukraine and was the chief editor of a Nazi propaganda newspaper during the Second World War.
A 2017 iPolitics profile on Freeland, even noted the Bandera movement. "Some voices close to the Kremlin will predictably disparage Freeland’s appointment. In addition to being a critic of the current Russian government, she is also of Ukrainian heritage; some Russian voices like to accuse Canada’s government of being in thrall to a powerful Ukrainian diaspora. (In 2015, a spokesman for the Russian government-owned oil company Rosneft claimed that Canadian sanctions against Russia’s energy sector were inspired by 'pro-Bandera' lobbyists. Stepan Bandera was an anti-Soviet Ukrainian partisan who was allied with Nazi Germany for some time during the Second World War.)"
The picture comes after only weeks ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the media were quick to label the trucker Freedom Convoy "Nazis." Trudeau even accused a Jewish Conservative MP of standing with "people who wave swastikas."
Footage from the event reveals that many flags featuring the Bandera colours were being flown:
Freeland said at the time of peaceful protestors who had their bank accounts frozen by Trudeau’s government, "The way to get your account unfrozen is to stop being part of the blockade and occupation."
Russia President Vladimir Putin just last week claimed that he invaded Ukraine to "De-Nazify" the country and stated that the Ukrainian government supported the extremist, far-right Nazi movement.
Writing in True North, Candice Malcolm observed:
"Freeland can scrub her own social media to her heart’s content, but her photo holding the red and black banner is making the rounds on social media and is being used on other news sites, including NPR.
"This is a significant misstep by Freeland. Let’s see if anyone in the media notices or reports on it."