Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has personally conveyed his regrets to Volodymr Zelensky about an incident in the House of Commons last month in which Canadian MPs and the Ukrainian President applauded a spectator who fought for a Nazi-led unit during the Second World War.
The issue surfaced during a call between Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Zelensky this week, although that part of the discussion is not mentioned in the text of a readout or official record of the call that was released by the Prime Minister’s Office.
However, a government source said Tuesday that Mr. Trudeau expressed his regrets that the incident happened. The Globe and Mail is not naming the source because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
On Sept. 22, Anthony Rota, then the speaker of the House, invited 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, one of his constituents, to the Commons and honoured him in a speech during Mr. Zelensky’s visit to Ottawa. Mr. Rota described Mr. Hunka as a “Ukrainian-Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought the Ukrainian independence against the Russians.”
But it was later revealed that Mr. Hunka, who received a pair of standing ovations from an audience that included Mr. Zelensky, had fought with the Nazi Waffen-SS Galicia Division.
Mr. Rota subsequently resigned as speaker and has been replaced by Liberal MP Greg Fergus, who was elected to the position by members of Parliament.
Mr. Trudeau apologized on behalf of Parliament at the end of September for the “terrible mistake” of honouring Mr. Hunka, a misstep that was the fodder for Russian propaganda.
The readout of Monday’s call between Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Trudeau says the President thanked the Prime Minister and all Canadians for their hospitality during his recent visit to this country.
It also said the two leaders talked about Ukraine’s battle against Russia’s invasion and the “situation in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank.” And the two leaders, said the statement, reaffirmed their intention to remain in close and regular contact.
Mr. Zelensky posted on X about his discussion with Mr. Trudeau but did not refer to any discussion about conversation on last month’s incident in the Commons.
“As part of our ongoing dialogue,” the President’s posting says, Mr. Trudeau “and I spoke to follow up on our agreements made during my recent visit to Canada.”
Among the topics Mr. Zelensky said they discussed was the development of Ukraine’s hydroelectric generation and the completion of a genocide museum related to the Holodomor – the man-made famine of 1932-33 ordered by Stalin in which at least four million Ukrainians died.
Mr. Zelensky also said he thanked Mr. Trudeau for his readiness to assist Ukraine in evacuating its citizens from Gaza, and said he appreciated Canadian support for his country’s peace proposal.
The President said he had invited a Canadian representative to attend the next meeting of national-security advisers to be held soon.