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Trudeau refuses to take blame, apologises on behalf of ‘Canadian Parliament’ for honouring Nazi veteran

Canada’s public safety minister Dominic LeBlanc with Justin Trudeau (Image courtesy: X)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologised on behalf of the Canadian Parliament for honouring a Nazi veteran during an event last week, however, refused to accept the blame personally.

The Opposition has come guns blazing at PM Trudeau over the incident, demanding him to apologise, and calling it a huge embarrassment for the country.

On September 22, during Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy’s speech in Canada’s Parliament, 98-year-old Ukrainian Yaroslav Hunka, who served in the first Ukrainian division, also known as the SS division “Galicia” during World War II was honoured by the Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada Anthony Rota.

“This was a mistake that has deeply embarrassed Parliament and Canada. All of us who were in this House on Friday regret deeply having stood and clapped even though we did so unaware of the context,” CBC News quoted Trudeau as saying in a brief statement to reporters.

He also said that the Speaker was “solely responsible” for the invitation and recognition of this man, and “he wholly accepted that responsibility and stepped down”.

“It was a horrendous violation of the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust,” he said, adding the celebration of ex-soldier Yaroslav Hunka was “deeply, deeply painful” to Jewish people, Poles, Roma, the LGBT community and other racialized people in particular — some of the groups that were targeted by the Nazi regime in the Second World War.

Trudeau also said that “Canada is deeply sorry” for involving Zelenskyy, who was pictured applauding Hunka — an image that has been exploited by Russian propagandists, CBC News reported.

Canada has sent an apology to Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian delegation through diplomatic channels, Trudeau added.

CBC News reported citing Liberal caucus sources that Trudeau has told MPs on Wednesday to avoid speaking to the press about Hunka’s invitation and the subsequent fallout, and that the media frenzy would die down if they stayed tight-lipped.

Meanwhile, Canada’s opposition leader, Pierre Poilevre, has lashed out at the Trudeau government, asking if the country has seen a bigger “diplomatic embarrassment” in history.

“The success of diplomatic visits is the personal responsibility of the Prime Minister of Canada: Justin Trudeau. Instead, we have an unprecedented global embarrassment for our country under his watch. What a disgrace,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter).

He had earlier called the incident the “greatest diplomatic embarrassment” in the country’s history.

“Has there ever been a greater diplomatic embarrassment in the history of our country?” he asked

Earlier on Tuesday, Anthony Rota resigned as the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons on Tuesday amid building pressure over the controversy, Canada-based Global News reported.

Rota announced his resignation in the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon. His resignation takes effect at the end of business day Wednesday, he added.

“I must step down as your Speaker,” he said, adding, “I reiterate my profound regret.”

Also Read: More trouble for Canada as Jews worldwide slam Trudeau government for honouring Nazi veteran in Parliament