Conservative Party Deputy Leader Melissa Lantsman said that since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously “called Canadian citizens Nazis” in 2022, he should issue an apology now that Parliament has accidentally paid tribute to a veteran of a Nazi unit.
“Will he muster the courage and stand up on his feet today and take responsibility?” Ms. Lantsman said in the House of Commons on Sept. 26.
On Feb. 16, 2022, while replying to Ms. Lantsman’s question about enacting the Emergencies Act in response to the Freedom Convoy, Mr. Trudeau said, “Conservative Party members can stand with people who wave swastikas.” He was referring to a lone protester who waved a Nazi flag on the first day of the Ottawa protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Ms. Lantsman responded to Mr. Trudeau’s accusation at the time, saying, “I am a strong Jewish woman and a member of this House and the descendant of Holocaust survivors. I have never been made to feel less except for today when the prime minister accused me of standing with swastikas. I think he owes me an apology.” Mr. Trudeau did not provide one.
On Sept. 26, Ms. Lantsman also requested that the prime minister issue an apology for the presence of Ukrainian-Canadian Yaroslav Hunka in Parliament on Sept. 22 during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit. Mr. Hunka received a standing ovation from MPs as a “veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians.”
Mr. Hunka fought with the First Ukrainian Division, which is another name for the 4th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, the military wing of the Nazi Party.
After becoming aware of the facts regarding Mr. Hunka’s past, Speaker of the House Anthony Rota apologized for the incident and said the responsibility rested with him, as he was the one who invited Mr. Hunka. Amid growing calls for his resignation by all parties, Mr. Rota announced on Sept. 26 that he would resign from his position as House Speaker.
The Conservatives have insisted that the government also had a role in the failure to vet the guest. The Liberal government has denied the charge, claiming the responsibility was the Speaker’s alone.
“I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to ask this prime minister for an apology, as he has slandered, dishonoured, and embarrassed Holocaust survivors, but I think two times is two too many,” Ms. Lantsman said.
Mr. Trudeau was not in the House of Commons on Sept. 26, as he was attending a meeting with the president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association in Toronto.
Erasing From Record
Ms. Lantsman also criticized Government House Leader Karina Gould for attempting to erase the parliamentary tribute to Mr. Hunka from the House of Commons record by seeking unanimous consent from MPs on a motion to that effect on Sept. 25.
“She can’t bring herself to apologize for an actual Nazi this government vetted. Worse even, she tried to strike it from the historical record of this House like it never happened,” Ms. Lantsman said of Ms. Gould during Question Period on Sept. 26.
The Conservatives were responsible for the failure of the vote, with MP Marty Morantz justifying the decision by saying “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” and that the incident served as an “ugly reminder of what survivors of the Holocaust know too well—that we must never forget.”
Ms. Gould said on Sept. 26 that “[Ms. Lantsman] knows as well as every other member in this House that it was the speaker who decided to invite this individual.”
Following Question Period on Sept. 26, Ms. Gould was asked by reporters if she regretted the decision to attempt to strike Mr. Rota’s comments from the record.
“I do not because, as I said, I think if any Parliamentarian had known ahead of time who they were being asked to stand and applaud for, not a single person would have stood,” she responded.