(RepublicanDaily.org) – Talk about a faux pas: All members of the Canadian Parliament stood up and gave a standing ovation for 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, an immigrant from Ukraine whom they thought to be a war hero.
It turns out that the war he fought in was World War II, and he was fighting for Hitler’s Nazi army.
The “honoring” of Hunka, which was initiated by Speaker Anthony Rota, was intentionally made to coincide with the visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Canada and its parliament, as part of the latter’s efforts to secure aid and arms from Western powers to help repel the ongoing invasion of Russia.
A teary-eyed Hunka, who was announced to have belonged to the First Ukrainian Division, saluted from the gallery of the House of Commons as he was given two standing ovations by all in attendance, as Rota called him a “Ukrainian hero” and “a Canadian hero,” and thanked him “for all his service.”
But Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) for Holocaust Studies, a Jewish organization whose goal is to educate people about the Holocaust, was quick to point out that the First Ukrainian Division was also known as Waffen-SS Galicia Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a unit that fought under the Nazi banner voluntarily. The division is documented to have perpetuated multiple massacres and killings of innocent civilian Jews, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, as well as Soviet Union citizens as part of its goal to achieve an “ethnically homogenous Ukrainian state.”
That the Canadian parliament stood and applauded Hunka was “appalling,” said the FSWC in a statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had also applauded Hunka, acknowledged the mistake and called the incident “deeply embarrassing” and “extremely upsetting”.
For his part, Rota issued a statement in which he extended his “deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world,” and said that he takes full responsibility for his oversight. Rota said that he did not know about the connection between the First Ukrainian Division and the Waffen-SS, but regrets his decision to honor Hunka in light of the information that has surfaced about the veteran’s past.
On September 27, news outlets reported that Rota resigned after receiving calls to do so for his decision to invited Hunka to Parliament. According to Fox News, House government leader Karina Gould said resigning was the “honorable thing” for Rota to do, adding that his was wrong for him to invited Hunka without doing his due diligence or informing the rest of government.
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