Canada’s Opposition leader, Pierre Poilievre, launched a strong attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accusing him of personally meeting and honoring a veteran who served in the Nazi forces during World War II. Poilievre described this as an “appalling error in judgment” on Trudeau’s part, asserting that the prime minister’s personal protocol office is responsible for arranging and vetting all guests and programming for state visits of this nature.
A significant controversy emerged when Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian immigrant, was recognized as a war hero in Canada’s House of Commons during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada’s parliament, praised Hunka as “a Ukrainian Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians” and hailed him as “a Ukrainian hero and a Canadian hero.” This recognition led to a standing ovation in the House.
However, on Sunday, Rota issued an apology for describing Hunka as a “Ukrainian hero” and expressed regret for the decision. He took full responsibility for what was deemed an oversight, stating that it was “entirely my own.”
Rota clarified, “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.”
Nonetheless, Pierre Poilievre, a Conservative leader and rival of Trudeau, called on the prime minister to apologize and urged him to refrain from shifting blame onto others, as he often does.
In a social media post, Poilievre revealed, “It has come out today that Justin Trudeau personally met with and honored a veteran of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (a Nazi division). Liberals then arranged for this Nazi veteran to be recognized on the floor of the House of Commons during the visit of the Ukrainian President.”
He further emphasized, “No parliamentarians (other than Justin Trudeau) had the opportunity to vet this individual’s past before he was introduced and honored on the floor of the House of Commons. Without warning or context, it was impossible for any parliamentarian in the room (other than Mr. Trudeau) to know of this dark past.”
Jason Cherniak, a Jewish lawyer who was present in Parliament during Zelensky’s speech, expressed his shock and disappointment. He had applauded Hunka, assuming he was a partisan who had fought against communist occupation after WWII. Upon learning of Hunka’s affiliation with an SS unit, he stated, “As a Jew who was one of the people unknowingly applauding a Nazi soldier, I can hardly imagine a more embarrassing moment. Somebody had better take responsibility for it in a serious way. Everybody who was in that room needs to feel clean again.”
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Source: Hindustan Times