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6 Feb, 2024 23:48

Trudeau accused of ‘lying’ about inviting WWII Nazi veteran to Zelensky event

Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre has urged Canada’s prime minister to resign
Trudeau accused of ‘lying’ about inviting WWII Nazi veteran to Zelensky event

Conservative Party of Canada leader Pierre Poilievre has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of deceiving the public about his role in the honoring of a former Ukrainian Waffen-SS soldier last year. 

Poilievre made his comments after Trudeau’s office confirmed to Canadian media on Tuesday that it had invited the 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka to attend last year’s reception of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in Toronto. During World War II, Hunka served in Nazi Germany’s 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS.

According to Trudeau’s spokesman Mohammad Hussain, Hunka did not attend the Toronto event. In September 2023, however, he received a standing ovation in the House of Commons in Ottawa, with Trudeau and Zelensky present in the chamber. The recognition of a man who had fought in Adolf Hitler’s army immediately caused a scandal, forcing House of Common Speaker Anthony Rota to resign. Trudeau apologized at the time for the “terrible mistake” of having “unknowingly” honored Hunka.

In a statement on Tuesday, Poilievre’s spokesman Sebastian Skamski said that the prime minister “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,” the spokesman said.

During the question period in the House of Commons, Poilievre reminded Trudeau that he had urged Rota to resign and asked if he would step down as well. “He said that the former speaker had to resign over doing the exact same thing. So will he hold himself to the very same standard and admit that he’s not fit for office?” the conservative politician said. 

Responding to Poilievre, Trudeau did not address the Rota scandal directly, and instead accused the conservatives of “abandoning Ukraine” and not standing with Ukrainian Canadians. Trudeau’s office issued a statement, reiterating the PM “had no knowledge” of Rota until he was invited to the chamber.