Just in case celebrating in the House of Commons a man who served with a Nazi unit in the Second World War wasn’t enough, that same individual was also reportedly invited to a Toronto reception for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office confirmed as much on Monday, months after the topic of Yaroslav Hunka being recognized in the House of Commons first made headlines.
Hunka, a 98-year-old veteran and one-time member of the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, did not attend the reception.
According to reports, the Toronto reception was part of Zelenskyy’s official visit itinerary and happened at night, on the same day Zelenskyy addressed Parliament and Hunka was subsequently feted by then-House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota and those present.
More than 1,000 people were reportedly invited to the Toronto event with the Ukrainian president, while hundreds were asked to attend on the recommendation of community groups.
“The individual in question’s name was submitted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The individual did not attend,” said PMO spokesperson Mohammad Hussain in an emailed statement, according to CTV News.
A Globe and Mail report said that the invitation to the event at the Fort York Armoury was sent to Hunka via the Office of Protocol of Canada with the subject line saying, “Invitation from the Prime Minister of Canada — September 22, 2023.”
“The prime minister had no knowledge of this individual before the independent recognition by the former Speaker of the House of Commons,” Hussain said, according to CTV News.
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“Knowing what is known now — the individual shouldn’t have been invited.”
Hunka was identified by Rota as a “war hero” and received two standing ovations in the chamber on Sept. 22, 2023, in which Zelenskyy also stood in celebration.
“No advance notice was provided to the Prime Minister’s Office, nor the Ukrainian delegation, about the invitation or the recognition,” the PMO said following the ugly blunder.
On Sept. 26, Rota announced his resignation as Speaker, effective Sept. 27.
The Liberals later tried to erase the mistaken celebration from the record of the House of Commons but the Tories were quick to block the motion.
Trudeau apologized for the “mistake” and its impacts on Parliament, the Ukrainian president, and Canadians, though he said at the time that Rota was “solely responsible.”
Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman had harsh criticism for Trudeau on Monday.
“Justin Trudeau caught lying AGAIN. Instead of admitting that he and his office personally invited a Nazi to his reception with the Ukrainian President — he lied about it — for months,” the MP for Thornhill said in a post on X.