Nazi veteran Hunka was invited to Zelenskyy’s reception: PMO

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office confirmed, months after acrimony first emerged over his House of Commons’ recognition, that Yaroslav Hunka, a veteran who fought for a Nazi unit during World War II, was also invited to a reception in Toronto for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. .

The event was part of Zelenskyy’s official visit itinerary and took place the night after his speech to Parliament, where Hunka was recognized by the then speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, and applauded by those present.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told CTV News on Monday that of the more than 1,000 people invited to the event in Toronto with the president, hundreds were asked to attend on the recommendation of community groups.

“The name of the individual in question was submitted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The individual did not attend,” PMO spokesperson Mohammad Hussain said in an emailed statement.

CTV News has contacted the Ukrainian Canadian Congress for comment.

The PMO’s confirmation comes amid reports that the invitation to the event at Fort York Armory was sent to Hunka from Canada’s Protocol Office. Specifically, According to The Globe and Mail, with the subject “Invitation from the Prime Minister of Canada – September 22, 2023”. CTV News has not independently verified the text of the invitation.

“The Prime Minister was not aware of this individual prior to independent recognition by the former Speaker of the House of Commons,” Hussain said.

The PMO did not respond to why Trudeau did not previously acknowledge this invitation, apparently separate from the invitation from the president’s office to the House speech.

“Knowing what is known now, the individual should not have been invited,” Hussain said.

Questions about what process the government followed regarding authorizing who could attend Zelenskyy’s speech have been swirling since controversy first erupted upon learning that the feted 98-year-old had been a member of the Galicia Division. of the Waffen-SS.

Trudeau apologized for the “mistake” and its impacts on Parliament, the Ukrainian president and Canadians, although he said at the time that Rota was “solely responsible.”

While opposition parties said Trudeau’s office shared responsibility for what turned Zelenskyy’s historic visit to Parliament into an international incident, Rota ultimately took full responsibility for Hunka’s presence in the gallery and resigned.

In a recent interview with CTV News Northern Ontario, Rota hinted there may be more to the story.

While Rota has said that neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Ukrainian delegation were aware of his plans to recognize Hunka, he pointed to protocols in place for vetting invitations to high-profile events.

“The invitation arrived, someone came in and asked to be there, then that goes to the protocol, the protocol takes it and what they will do is then issue the invitation,” Rota said.

“Before that, he usually goes to the Prime Minister’s Office and they scrutinize him… So who invited him? That’s at stake… It doesn’t matter, it’s over, it’s over and a mistake has been made.” “.

Leave a Comment