A photo that suggests a Ukrainian former Waffen-SS member may have met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has added fuel to the scandal surrounding the Canadian parliament’s celebration of Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian former Nazi soldier. The image, posted on the Facebook page of Hunka’s granddaughter, Theresa, shows the 98-year-old veteran sitting in a wheelchair in a room decorated with Canadian and Ukrainian flags. Theresa’s caption indicated that Hunka was waiting for Trudeau and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to arrive. However, it remains unclear whether the photo was taken before Hunka’s participation in the parliament session or if he indeed had a personal meeting with the Canadian prime minister.
Upon seeing the photo, many social media users quickly suggested that Hunka did, in fact, meet with Trudeau and Zelensky. However, Theresa Hunka made her Facebook account private after the image was widely shared on various platforms.
Trudeau responded to the scandal by stating that the celebration of Hunka was “extremely upsetting” and “deeply embarrassing to the Parliament of Canada and by extension to all Canadians.” However, he did not mention anything about a personal meeting with the SS veteran. Instead, he called for a “push back against Russian propaganda.”
Hunka had been invited to the parliament as a “Ukrainian and Canadian hero,” despite clear evidence of his membership in the SS. Canadian House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota took sole responsibility for the incident, acknowledging that it was his initiative and expressing regret afterwards.
Trudeau’s office insisted that there was “no advance notice” provided to Zelensky’s delegation or to the Canadian leader regarding Hunka’s invitation. The standing ovation that the Nazi veteran received drew criticism from Jewish groups and several nations, including Russia and Poland. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the incident as “outrageous negligence.” Poland has demanded Rota’s resignation and that Hunka be charged with war crimes. The United Nations also expressed its opposition to “any honoring of people who actively took part in Nazi activities during the Second World War.”
The controversy surrounding Hunka’s presence at the Canadian parliament has garnered significant attention and criticism from various sources. It remains to be seen how the Canadian government will address these concerns and whether any further actions will be taken in response to the scandal.