Trudeau denies inviting Nazi soldier to Zelensky reception, claims Ukrainian Canadian Congress is being ‘attacked’

Feb 7, 2024 | Political News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued to deny Tuesday any responsibility for inviting a former Waffen-SS soldier to participate in an official visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Although former Nazi Yaroslav Hunka did not go to a Toronto reception that Trudeau invited him to attend, he sat in the gallery during Zelenskyy’s speech to Parliament and received two standing ovations from MPs and praise from then-Speaker Anthony Rota as a “Canadian hero.”

During Tuesday’s Question Period, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre confronted Trudeau about the Prime Minister’s role in inviting Hunka to Parliament.

“Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been claiming for months that he had no involvement in or knowledge of the invitation of a former Nazi soldier to the visit of the Ukrainian president. Now we know that he personally invited that same individual; he actually said the opposite. And 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?”

Trudeau did his best not to answer the question and claimed, “The attacks that the leader of the opposition is choosing to make against the Ukrainian Canadian Congress demonstrates the extent to which this Conservative Party no longer stands with Ukraine,” he said.

The Prime Minister declared that the Conservatives would “have an opportunity in just a few minutes, Mr. Speaker, to stand and vote in favor of a free trade deal that Volodymyr Zelensky himself is asking this House to pass and he is choosing to not stand with Ukraine, not stand with Ukrainians and not stand with Ukrainian-Canadians.”

Trudeau departed the House shortly after responding to Poilievre, leaving Government House Leader Steven MacKinnon to respond to further questioning from the Official Opposition.

Deputy Conservative leader Melissa Lantsman noted that Trudeau “blamed the Speaker saying that he acted alone. He's saying he had no idea about any of it. He called for him to take responsibility. He watched him resign. And yesterday he tried to blame the Ukrainian Congress. After all of the embarrassment all over the world. Why is he above the rules that he applies to everyone else?”

In his answer, MacKinnon tried to divert attention back to the upcoming vote on a free trade deal with Ukraine.

Conservative MP Marty Morantz continued the attack.

“Another day, another international embarrassment. After months of denials and throwing the former Speaker under the bus. Now we [have] learned that it was the prime minister who invited a Nazi to a reception with President Zelenskyy. He forced the Speaker to resign, to take the fall so he could avoid responsibility and cling to power. After eight years of this prime minister, he is not worth the cost to Canada's reputation. Why does the Prime Minister invite a Nazi to a reception with the Ukrainian Prime Minister?”

“This is fake outrage,” MacKinnon responded. 

“Why? Because today we are voting on trade arrangements with one of our closest allies, the people in the country of Ukraine who are repelling as we speak and dying against Russian invaders. This is a moral failing of historic proportions, Mr. Speaker.”