The House affairs committee is expected to order an inquiry into how the former Speaker of the House managed to invite and praise a Nazi SS officer at the House of Commons.
With a vote expected for October 19, Conservative MP Michael Cooper hopes the House affairs committee supports his motion to investigate why “proper vetting was not done,” reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
On September 22, Yaroslav Hunka, 98, received two standing ovations from all House parties, causing an international incident that “brought shame [to] Parliament.”
“This should never have happened,” Cooper told the committee on October 17. “It is a stain on the reputation of the institution of Parliament.”
Cooper acknowledged the enormous hurt and offence it caused Canada’s Jewish community and around the world. He added the incident “dishonoured the more than six million Jews who were murdered at the hands of Nazis during World War II.”
Hunka, an admitted former Waffen SS member, received VIP treatment on Parliament Hill during a state visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Then-speaker Anthony Rota presented the Nazi officer as a national hero.
“We have here in the chamber today a Ukrainian-Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today even at his age of 98,” said Speaker Rota. “His name is Yaroslav Hunka.”
“I am very proud to say he is from North Bay and from my riding of Nipissing-Temiskaming,” added Rota. “He is a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service. Thank you.”
Rota then resigned over the incident on September 27. “My intention was to show that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is not a new one, that Ukrainians have unfortunately been subject to foreign aggression for far too long,” he said.
Hunka served as a volunteer with the 14th Waffen SS Grenadier Division — a designated criminal entity according to the 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal.
“My generation was united by two great forces, faith in God and love for Ukraine,” Hunka said in a 2011 commentary published by the Ukrainian-language Combatant News.
As of writing, Canada’s Justice Department has yet to publicly disclose a confidential list of 20 suspected Nazi fugitives in Canada. Québec Court of Appeal Justice Jules Deschenes compiled the 1985 Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes.
“It is a matter of extreme seriousness involving an incident that brought great shame on the institution of Parliament and brought great hurt to many Canadians, particularly Jewish Canadians,” said Cooper.
“Canadians deserve answers. They deserve to know how this happened,” he added.