Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday expressed 'unreserved apologies' on behalf of all of Canada after a 98-year-old veteran who served in a Nazi SS unit was honored Friday in the country's parliament.
Yaroslav Hunka was invited to the legislature by Anthony Rota, the speaker of Canada's House of Commons, who resigned Tuesday over the incident.
Trudeau said he had reached out to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was on a visit to Canada at the time, in the fallout of the controversy. Both Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, and Trudeau were present for the incident.
Zelenskyy had delivered remarks before Friday's joint legislative session when Rota described Hunka as 'a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero.' Rota pointed him out in the audience, giving way to two rounds of applause from the lawmakers and politicians who were in attendance to show support for Ukraine and Zelenskyy.
Hunka, who is now a Canadian citizen, once fought in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division, an SS unit that declared loyalty to Hitler and battled the Soviet Army for Ukrainian independence.
Rota said that he 'subsequently became aware of more information' regarding Hunka's past and apologized to his fellow members of Parliament.
Rota stepped down after unflinching pressure from activist groups.
FILE - Anthony Rota speaks in Canada's House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario, Sept. 22, 2023. Days later, he resigned as Speaker of the House of Commons for praising in Parliament a man who served in a Nazi SS unit during World War II. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Rota didn't give advance notice to Trudeau or Zelenskyy that Hunka would be invited.
Karina Gould, Canada's house leader, told The New York Times that had she known of Hunka's Nazi ties she would 'have never in a million years stood and applauded.'