A former Canadian diplomat explains the consequences of Parliament’s ‘mind-boggling’ ovation for a former Nazi

Artur Wilczynski
Artur Wilczynski, a career diplomat and high-ranking senior civil servant for Canada, in an interview with The CJN Daily, wants the government to "own its blunder" after Yaroslav Hunka was revealed to have fought for the Nazis in the Second World War.

Artur Wilczynski has choice words to describe what happened in the Canadian House of Commons on Sept. 22, when lawmakers gave two standing ovations to a 98-year-old former Ukrainian solider who served with a Nazi unit during the Second World War. Wilczynski, a former diplomat and senior civil servant in Ottawa—and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor—calls the scandal an “absolute public relations disaster for Canada.”

Wilczynski was stunned as he watched the incident unfold during Friday’s official ceremony in the House to welcome Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Canada. After the leader of the war-torn country made his formal speech, the Speaker of the House, Anthony Rota, recognized the presence of Yaroslav Hunka in the public gallery. Rota called Hunka, who lives in Rota’s riding of North Bay, a Canadian hero—but it soon was discovered that, in fact, he had actually fought for the Nazis and against the Russians, as part of a notorious Waffen-SS unit known for massacring Jews during the Holocaust and committing atrocities against Polish civilians.

The Speaker has since announced his resignation, effective Wednesday night. But observers, including Wilczynski, say the damage will have long-lasting repercussions on Canada, NATO and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Wilczynski joins The CJN Daily to unpack how such a failure in protocol could have happened—and what Canada needs to do to fix things.

What we talked about

  • Read CJN editor Lila Sarick’s interviews with Jewish Canadian leaders about Speaker Anthony Rota resigning, in The CJN
  • Why the Canadian government’s poor record of prosecuting Nazi war criminals is considered a failure by Jewish groups, in The CJN (from 2017)
  • Why this Nazi hunter called Helmut Oberlander’s peaceful death in his Waterloo, Ont., home in 2021 a disgrace, on The CJN Daily


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer.Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here. Mo