Wed, 06 Dec 2023

Ottawa [Canada], September 25 (ANI): Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, Anthony Rota on Sunday apologized for honouring Yaroslav Hunka, a man who fought in a Nazi unit during the Second World War, CBC News reported.

CBC News is a division of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the news gathering and production of news programs.

Rota was responding to condemnation from Jewish groups and others, stemming from a moment during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to the Parliament on Friday.

During the visit, Rota said Yaroslav Hunka was "a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service." Those gathered in the House responded with applause and a standing ovation.

Rota has now apologized for the same.

"I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to [honour Hunka]. 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.

""I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world," he added.

Rota said he accepted "full responsibility" for his actions, as per CBC News.

Hunka, 98, was part of the First Ukrainian Division, also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis.

CBC News has attempted to contact Hunka and his family for comment, but have not been successful.

In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office said the decision to invite and honour Hunka was made by the Speaker's office alone.

"The independent Speaker of the House has apologized and accepted full responsibility for issuing the invitation and for the recognition in Parliament. This was the right thing to do," said a PMO spokesperson.

The event was broadcast internationally, including by CBC.

Government House Leader Karina Gould also said on Sunday that the government did not know about Hunka's presence.

"The PM did not meet him. I am deeply troubled this happened. I urge MPs to avoid politicizing this incident," she said in a statement on social media.

Jewish groups and others had raised the alarm about Hunka's past actions.

"The fact that this individual, and by proxy the organization he was a member of, was given a standing ovation in the House of Commons is deeply troubling," Dan Panneton, a director with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, told CBC News on Sunday.

"I think association with this unit makes you a Nazi collaborator. To be part of this unit, you swore allegiance to Hitler and you were involved with the massacre of civilians. So it doesn't matter if you try and claim that you were defending against communism, you were still involved with the Nazi war machine. That makes you complicit," he said. (ANI)

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