New Delhi, September 25
In a major embarrassment for Ottawa, which has locked horns with New Delhi over the murder of an Indian-origin terrorist in Surrey, Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons Anthony Rota has apologised for felicitating and praising Yaroslav Hunka, who it emerged had fought in World War II as a member of dreaded ad brutal SS (Schutzstaffel), an armed vigilante organisation directly under Hitler and responsible for execution of civilians in Nazi Germany.
The felicitation took place under the full glare of the cameras in Canadian Parliament in the presence of PM Justin Trudeau and his entire Cabinet to felicitate visiting Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky on September 22.
The burden of the apology fell on the Speaker after Jewish organisations, including the influential, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, demanded that Ottawa recant for its blunder.
The SS’s operations largely targeted contrarians such as the socialists and the communists besides members of the Jewish community. Many were picked up by the SS and disappeared without a trace including several Members of Parliament and the records of those gassed to their deaths or executed were later found from records of prison camps.
Rota hailed Hunka as a "war hero" who fought for the First Ukrainian Division, upon which he was applauded by members of all parties including the ruling Liberals and their supporting partner New Democratic Party which describes itself as left of centre.
NDP leader’s most recognisable face, Jagmeet Singh, was among those who apologised for the grave mistake in judgment.
Rota in his apology issued on Sunday said, “In my remarks following the address of the President of Ukraine, I recognised an individual in the gallery. I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to do so. I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my action.”
The Speaker claimed that the Ukrainian delegation, when informed, went ahead with the felicitation arrangement and did not inform his office about Hunka’s antecedents.
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