Toronto, Canada, Sept 25 (EFE).- The speaker of Canada’s lower house of parliament, Anthony Rota, apologized Monday for honoring on Friday a 98-year-old Ukrainian-born Canadian who fought with a Waffen-SS Nazi unit in World War II.
“I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world,” he said in the House of Commons on Monday.
Rota added that his intention was not to offend anyone and that he was unaware of the past of Yaroslav Hunka, who lives in the Canadian town of North Bay.
During World War II (1939-1945), Hunka was a member of the 14th SS Grenadier Division, an SS division made up of Ukrainians who fought against the Soviet Union.
Not only was Hunka invited by Rota to attend Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech in the Canadian Parliament on Friday, but he also publicly paid tribute to the Nazi fighter, calling him “a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service.”
Everyone present, including Zelensky, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and all Canadian members of Parliament and senators, applauded Hunka as he was saluted from the public gallery.
Hunka’s past was revealed over the weekend by Canadian Jewish organizations, which criticized the Canadian parliament for honoring a Nazi fighter.
Meanwhile, Russian authorities on Monday criticized the “scandalous” presence of a Ukrainian who fought with the Nazis in World War II in the Canadian parliament.
Russia has justified its invasion of Ukraine as an effort to “denazify” the country.
Following Rota’s apology, the social-democratic New Democratic Party, an opposition group, called for his resignation as speaker of the House of Commons.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Conservative Party linked Hunka’s presence to Trudeau.
For its part, the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada denied that Trudeau had any prior knowledge of his presence or his Nazi past. EFE