Last week, 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka received recognition in the Canadian House of Commons. He was introduced by House Speaker Anthony Rota during an event with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Hunka was praised as a hero of both Ukrainian and Canadian descent, having fought against the Russians in the Second World War. Driven by russophobia and support for Ukraine, the entire parliament, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, offered Hunka two heartfelt standing ovations. Zelensky also raised his fist in the air in solidarity with Hunka.
None of the 338 Members of Parliament paused to consider that Russia was a significant ally in the Second World War. If someone had fought against the Russians, it would imply alignment with the Nazis. Among those applauding was the German Ambassador to Canada.
It soon came to light that Hunka had served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Ukrainian unit formed by the Nazi regime in 1943. This division is notoriously known for its mass murders and committing severe atrocities against Jews and Poles on the Eastern Front during the war.
Realizing the gravity of the error, Speaker Anthony Rota tendered his resignation, underlining that neither his fellow parliamentarians nor the Ukrainian delegation had prior knowledge of his intentions or remarks. Trudeau, who initially labeled the event as merely "embarrassing," was later more forthright, offering "parliament's unreserved apologies for what happened on Friday." However, Trudeau stopped short of blaming Russians and warned about Russian propaganda. Even though the speaker was thrown to the wolves, it has been reported that Trudeau himself had met with Hunka before he was presented to the parliament. Rota tried to persuade the parliament to remove all traces of the event from public records.
Trudeau's acknowledgment of the episode emphasized its severe implications, particularly for Jewish, Polish, Roma, and LGBTQI communities. He remarked, “It was a horrendous violation of the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust.”
While Trudeau claimed ignorance of Hunka's association with the Nazi unit, some argue that Rota's reference to a Ukrainian fighting Russians during WWII inherently suggests alignment with Nazi Germany, as this is historically accurate.
The event attracted a vast spectrum of condemnation. Reactions ranged from Jewish groups like the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, who highlighted the brutality and malice of Hunka's wartime unit, to countries like Russia and Poland, which decried the recognition. Poland even mulled over extraditing Hunka in the aftermath of the revelation.
Michael Mostyn, CEO of the Jewish human rights group B'nai Brith Canada, elucidated the broader concern, pointing to a lack of awareness in Canada regarding Nazi collaborators who migrated to the country.
Opposition figures like Pierre Poilievre emphasized Trudeau's responsibility in the debacle, underscoring the lasting damage to Canada's international reputation. The revelation about Hunka's Nazi background was first made by George Galloway in his Mother of All Talk Shows channel.HT
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