OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is fending off fresh questions about the controversial Nazi veteran who was invited to the House of Commons last fall.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre wants Trudeau to step down, the same fate that befell former Commons Speaker Anthony Rota.
Rota resigned after Yaroslav Hunka was invited to — and lauded at — a speech in the House of Commons by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy.
Media reports now say Trudeau's office also invited Yaroslav Hunka to a reception in Toronto in Zelenskyy's honour that same day.
Hunka, a Ukrainian-Canadian veteran, fought for a voluntary unit created by the Nazis during the Second World War.
In question period, Poilievre said Trudeau himself called for Rota to step down amid the tumult — and urged him to follow suit.
"Will he hold himself to the very same standard and admit that he's not fit for office?" the Conservative leader demanded.
Trudeau tried to turn the tables, well aware of a looming vote on an updated Canada-Ukraine trade agreement the Conservatives have opposed for months.
"He is choosing to not stand with Ukraine, not stand with Ukrainians and not stand with Ukrainian Canadians. Why are they abandoning Ukraine?"
The Prime Minister's Office says Hunka, who did not attend the reception, was among hundreds of potential invitees who were recommended by diaspora groups like the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
The Russian embassy in Ottawa promptly seized on the controversy, posting a message that appeared to blame Trudeau for the whole affair.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2024.
The Canadian Press