Trudeau’s office invited Nazi veteran to reception at Fort York Armoury
Trudeau’s office invited Nazi veteran to reception at Fort York Armoury

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office invited Waffen-SS veteran Yaroslav Hunka to a reception the prime minister was hosting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

Hunka was the Ukrainian veteran given a standing ovation in the House of Commons during Zelenskyy’s visit last September. Trudeau blamed House speaker Anthony Rota, who resigned over the incident. 

The Prime Minister’s Office previously claimed it no involvement in communicating with Hunka’s presence.

The standing ovation sparked an intense backlash from Jewish advocacy groups.

Trudeau apologized, not personally, but on behalf of Canada shortly after the incident occurred.

“I also want to reiterate how deeply sorry Canada is for the situation this put President Zelensky and the Ukrainian delegation in,” said Trudeau at the time.  

Trudeau would not offer a personal apology, continuing to say it was the Speaker of the House’s responsibility – and not his government’s.

“The speaker was solely responsible for the invitation and recognition of this man and has wholly accepted that responsibility and stepped down,” said Trudeau, referring to Rota’s resignation.

“This was a mistake that has deeply embarrassed Parliament and Canada. All of us who were in this house on Friday regret deeply having stood and clapped even though we did so unaware of the context,” said Trudeau.

However, according to an invitation recently reviewed by the Globe and Mail, Trudeau invited Hunka to “a special event” at Fort York Armoury in Toronto later that evening on Sept. 22. 

The invitation was “sent to Mr. Hunka four days before the reception from the Office of Protocol of Canada.”

The invitation was in the form of an email with the subject titled “Invitation from the Prime Minister of Canada – September 22, 2023.”

“Dear Yaroslav Hunka, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, is pleased to invite you to a special event. The event will take place on Friday, September 22, 2023, at 8.30pm in Toronto, Ontario,” read the email. 

“Once we receive confirmation of your attendance, the formal invitation will be issued, including detailed information regarding registration and access.”

The invitation goes on to inquire about any possible mobility restrictions Hunka may have and that the invitation is “for the invitee only, does not include a guest and is non-transferable.”

The Prime Minister’s Office said that Trudeau had no knowledge that Hunka’s name was among those on the invitation list compiled by the Canadian Ukrainian Congress. 

“The Prime Minister had no knowledge of this individual before the independent recognition by the former Speaker of the House of Commons. Last September, there was a community event with the President of Ukraine in Toronto with over 1,000 people invited. Hundreds of Canadians were invited upon the recommendation of groups like the Ukrainian Canadian Congress,” wrote Ann-Clara Vaillancourt, a spokesperson for Trudeau in an email to the Globe and Mail.  

“The individual in question’s name was submitted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The individual did not attend. Knowing what is known now – the individual shouldn’t have been invited.”

However, critics of Trudeau believe that this latest incident is indicative of a pattern of not taking responsibility for his own actions. 

“Yet again, Justin Trudeau has been caught lying. Instead of admitting that he and his office personally invited a Nazi to an official Prime Ministerial reception with the Ukrainian President, he has lied for months to the Canadian people and has blamed everyone but himself,” said Sebastian Skamski, a spokesperson for Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.

“It is appalling and bewildering, although entirely unsurprising, that Justin Trudeau would embarrass our country and undermine our relationship with an ally, only to lie about it and refuse to apologize for the embarrassment and hurt he has caused.”

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