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Speaker Pleads Ignorance After Leading Zelensky and Trudeau in Tribute to Nazi SS Soldier

by Oliver JJ Lane

The speaker of Canada’s Parliament [above, left] has issued an apology after heaping praise on a former Waffen SS soldier, leading to the individual being feted with applause in the chamber by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.

Speaker Anthony Rota introduced 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka during a special session at Parliament Hill on Friday attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, describing “Ukrainian hero, Canadian hero” Hunka as one who had “fought [for] Ukrainian independence against the Russians” in the Second World War. Having done so, the chamber came to its feet — including Zelensky and Trudeau — and gave sustained applause with whooping cheers, twice.

Yet Hunka was quickly identified as a former member of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician), a notorious paramilitary formation which the Polish ambassador to Canada said on Sunday was “responsible for murdering thousands of Poles & Jews”.

Zelensky being seen applauding an SS volunteer is awkward for his nation’s cause, given the energy devoted by Russian propagandists to portray the Kyiv government as being the descendants of Second World War-era Ukrainian fascists. Russia tells its own people the purpose of what they euphemistically call their ‘special military operation’ is the ‘Denazification’ of Ukraine.

Despite using his prominent platform as speaker of the house to bring attention to Hunka, who he also said was a resident of his own electoral district, Rota has now pleaded ignorance as to who Hunka actually was. Calling the oversight “entirely my own”, Rota said he had “subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision”.

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