Canada row over parliament praise for Ukrainian Nazi war
During a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Yaroslav Hunka, 98, was greeted with a standing ovation in parliament after Mr Rota described him as a “hero”.
“I am deeply troubled” that a veteran of a Nazi division, which participated in the genocide of Jews, has been celebrated, according to the Canadian Jewish group CIJA.
The article said there would never be a repeat of this.
When Mr Zelensky spoke in parliament, Justin Trudeau was with him.
Millions of Ukrainians served in the Soviet Red Army during the war, whereas thousands fought on the German side.
Mr Rota said in a statement that on 22 September “I recognized an individual in the gallery in my remarks following the address of the Ukrainian president.”.
Following my decision, I have discovered more information that makes me regret it.”
“No one, including fellow parliamentarians and the Ukraine delegation, knew what I intended or what I said before I delivered it,” Rota said. My initiative was entirely my own; the individual in question is from my riding [district] and has been brought to my attention.”
I wish to express my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my actions.” he said.
CIJA responded to his statement saying: “We appreciate the apology… Proper vetting is imperative to prevent such an unacceptable incident from occurring in the future.”
The leader of Canada’s opposition Conservative party, Pierre Poilievre, called on Prime Minister Trudeau to apologize for the incident,
Mr Trudeau’s office, however, said that the decision to invite Mr Hunka was made by the speaker’s office alone, and the apology “was the right thing to do”.
Mr Rota referred at one point to Mr Hunka seated in the gallery as “a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all he has done for our country”.
The 14th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division, also known as the Galicia Division, was a voluntary unit mainly composed of ethnic Ukrainians under Nazi command during World War Two.
Members of the division have been accused of killing Polish and Jewish civilians, although the unit has not been found guilty of war crimes.
Before surrendering to the Western Allies in 1945, the unit was renamed the First Ukrainian Division.