After honoring a former Waffen-SS soldier in the Canadian Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked for forgiveness. “It was a terrible violation of the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust,” said the head of government. “It was a mistake that deeply embarrassed Parliament and Canada.”

Parliament Speaker Anthony Rota honored an SS veteran on Friday last week during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the lower house. He called 98-year-old Ukrainian immigrant Jaroslav Hunka a “Ukrainian-Canadian war veteran” who fought for Ukraine’s independence against Russia. Hunka was present in the chamber and received thunderous applause.

However, Rota failed to mention that, according to the organization Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC), Hunka had served in a Waffen-SS unit during the Second World War. The SS, which was classified as a criminal organization at the Nuremberg Trials after the end of the war, had national associations in many occupied countries that were involved in war crimes.

President of Parliament resigns after scandal

“All of us who were in Parliament on Friday deeply regret having stood up and applauded, even if we did not know the background,” Trudeau said. Rota was solely responsible for inviting and honoring the SS veteran. After harsh criticism from MPs and members of the government, the President of Parliament resigned on Tuesday.

Trudeau also apologized for the situation the incident had put Zelensky in. “It is very disturbing that this mistake is being used by Russia and its supporters to spread false propaganda about what Ukraine is fighting for,” Trudeau said. To justify its war of aggression, which has been going on for 19 months, Russia has repeatedly tried to portray the Ukrainian government as “neo-Nazi.”