Canada: the standing ovation for a Nazi in parliament was not just a mistake

Canada’s Parliament has made the PR gaffe of the century by inviting a known Nazi collaborator into the House of Commons and giving him a standing ovation. While certainly an embarrassing blunder, this was more than a one-off mistake. The incident puts the full spotlight on the pattern of Canadian imperialism of whitewashing Ukrainian fascists; and on the complete stupidity of the ruling class, blinded by the war frenzy against Russia.

[Originally published at]

On Sept. 22, after an address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, House Speaker Anthony Rota invited the house to clap for 98 year-old Yaroslav Hunka, who was invited to the session as a guest. Rota described this man as a Ukrainian “war hero” from the Second World War “who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians.” 

Later, it was revealed that Hunka fought for the Galicia Division in WW2, which was the Ukrainian volunteer unit of the notorious Waffen-SS. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies has said that the division “was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable”. 

The Liberal party, faced with this massive embarrassment, is now throwing Rota under the bus. Rota insists that the decision to invite Hunka was his own and he’s already announced his resignation over the scandal. But the blame should not lie squarely with Rota. In the process of inviting Hunka, did not one person think to vet him? It does not exactly take a PhD in history to know who was fighting against Russia during World War 2.

Out of the 338 Members of Parliament, did not a single person make that connection? Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland graduated from Oxford with a master’s degree in Slavonic studies! It’s out of the question that she didn’t know. By all measures, it is simply astounding that a screw-up this massive could happen in the first place. 

The Canadian mainstream media has largely tried to downplay this as just a simple error. For example, Globe and Mail columnist Andrew Coyne made a post on the website formerly known as Twitter stating that he was “Glad to see everyone on all sides refraining from politicizing this unfortunate situation.” As if inviting a Nazi into parliament isn’t inherently political! And simply calling this an “unfortunate situation” is the ultimate understatement. Coyne seems to think this sort of thing could happen to anyone, but it’s safe to bet that the large majority of people reading this article have never associated with a war criminal. 

In fact, this is not the first time that the Canadian government closed its eyes to Nazi collaborators in the country. After WW2, the federal government allowed 600 former Galicia Division fighters to settle in Canada. This decision was justified under the pretense that they volunteered for the Nazis “not because of a love of the Germans but because of their hatred for the Russians and the Communist tyranny.” As Hitler had been defeated and the Cold War was beginning, the Canadian government now considered Communists to be the real threat. 

When, later, the Canadian government was reminded of the presence of these Nazis in Canada, it kept making excuses. In the 1980s, the famous Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal sent the government a list of 217 former Galicia Division members who may be living in Canada. Subsequent RCMP investigations and a 1986 public inquiry concluded that Nazi collaborators had indeed settled down in Canada. However, none of the investigations recommended deportation, because the federal government knew of these individuals' Nazi pasts when they moved into the country, and because “mere membership” in the SS did not constitute proof of having committed a war crime! 

After insisting on action repeatedly and never seeing it, Wiesenthal eventually concluded that the Canadian government didn’t have the political will to hunt down ex-Nazis and refused to set foot back in the country afterwards. 

It is also worth pointing out the many monuments that exist across the country dedicated to Nazi collaborators, including one in Oakvilletwo in Edmonton, and a street in Gatineau that was named after a pro-Nazi scientist until 2015. In fact, there are so many of these memorials in Canada that there is an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to listing them all! 

The government’s association with Ukrainian fascists extends into the modern day. Another example includes none other than Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. Freeland has repeatedly bragged about her grandfather, Michael Chomiak, saying he “worked hard to bring freedom and democracy to Ukraine.” During WW2, Chomiak was the editor of a Nazi propaganda paper. When this information first got out, Freeland decried it as “Russian disinformation,” but all evidence points to the contrary. Freeland was also caught posing for photographs with a scarf bearing a Ukrainian far-right slogan.

In the war against Russia, Canada has actively supported fascist elements within the Ukrainian army. At the beginning of the war, Canadian officials met up with members of the infamous Azov Battalion, which is a neo-Nazi unit that’s incorporated in Ukraine’s National Guard. Government officials largely ignored reports over the political nature of the battalion, and were more concerned with how the news getting out would affect their public image than anything else. 

Indeed, this latest case of Nazi apologia in Parliament is not just an accident, but flows from the logic of Canada’s involvement in the war. 

The current war frenzy and the desire to rally public opinion behind Western imperialism’s opposition to Russia help to explain how not a single person in the government or the Parliament thought of doing a little background check on a “Ukrainian veteran” and why they all clapped like trained seals at the mere mention of having fought the Russians. This humiliation for Canadian imperialism is well deserved.

Why is Canada really involved with Ukraine? 

Soldiers in the woods Image Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Wikimedia CommonsNATO countries have poured billions of dollars into their proxy war against Russia / Image: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Wikimedia Commons

All of this hullabaloo is happening while Zelensky has been touring the West to rally support for his counteroffensive against Russia. This counteroffensive has turned out to be a complete failure, and he is beginning to feel like he is being left to hang dry by his allies. 

NATO countries have poured billions of dollars into their proxy war against Russia, and are finding it increasingly hard to justify the war spending to their poverty-stricken populations. There are signs that the U.S. is preparing public opinion to accept the idea of abandoning Ukraine. Before his trip to Canada, Zelensky received a lukewarm welcome in Washington, where he only obtained a meager $325 millions in new funding. 

Canada gave him a warmer reception, and promised him $650 million worth of new funding, eager to show to its allies that it is doing its part in the war against Russia. What a success the visit would’ve been, if only Trudeau hadn’t handed Putin this public relations victory on a platter! To be sure, Russia’s claim of invading Ukraine for the purpose of denazification is pure demagogy and Russia has its fair amount of neo-Nazis in their own army; but Ukraine’s—and Canada’s—complacency towards fascists certainly doesn’t serve to expose that lie.

Instead of achieving a victory, Trudeau now looks like a clown on the world scene, and he has exposed the hypocrisy of the West’s proxy war. The government has always claimed that it is sending supplies to Ukraine to help defend “freedom” and “democracy”. But if their idea of  “freedom fighters” includes people who fought for the Waffen-SS, that is enough to question their motives. While Canadians are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet, the government is clapping for Nazis and spending hundreds of millions on weapons to weaken a rival on the chessboard of imperialism.

In reality, Canada has encouraged and supported this war for the sake of its imperialist allies in NATO, particularly America. Russia has become one of the principal enemies on the world stage for the western imperialist powers. What this war is really about is keeping Ukraine in the fold of Western imperialism to better plunder it, weakening Russia as much as possible in the process.

As much as Canada likes to present itself as the “nice” and “peaceful” country on the world stage, it is an imperialist power. It’s willing to use any means at its disposal to further its interests, even if that includes turning a blind eye to the crimes of living monsters like Hunka and the leaders of the Azov Battalion. Any claim that the war is being fought over “freedom” only serves to cover up its true nature. 

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