Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued an official apology on behalf of Canada following an incident in which a Ukrainian man who had served in a Nazi unit received unintended applause in parliament.
"This is a mistake that deeply embarrassed parliament and Canada," Mr Trudeau said on Wednesday, as reproted by BBC.
Speaker Anthony Rota, who had taken responsibility for inviting Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old individual, resigned from his position on Tuesday.
This incident has garnered widespread international condemnation.
Additionally, Mr. Trudeau personally extended his apology to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was visiting Canada and in attendance during the parliamentary session, stating: "Canada is extrememly sorry"
The Ukrainian leader was among those captured in photographs applauding Mr. Hunka, an image that has been manipulated and used in Russian propaganda efforts.
"All of us who were in this House on Friday regret deeply having stood and clapped even though we did so unaware of the context," Mr Trudeau said. "It was a horrendous violation of the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust."
He expressed that what transpired was "profoundly and profoundly agonizing" for the Jewish community and the numerous individuals who were subjected to the horrors of the Nazi genocide.
Mr. Hunka, who served in a Nazi unit during World War Two, received a standing ovation and was commended as a Ukrainian and Canadian "icon."
He served in the 14th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division, a volunteer unit primarily composed of ethnic Ukrainians under Nazi command. While members of this division have been accused of committing atrocities against Polish and Jewish civilians, it's important to note that the unit has not been officially charged with war crimes by a tribunal.
Mr. Rota has stated that he was unaware of Mr. Hunka's affiliation with the Nazis and acknowledged that he made an error in extending an invitation to him to participate in the parliamentary proceedings.
"The Speaker was solely responsible for the invitation and recognition of this man, and has wholly accepted that responsibility and stepped down," Mr Trudeau said.
However, the comments from the prime minister and the speaker's resignation have not succeeded in dampening the criticism voiced by Canada's opposition leader, Pierre Poilievre of the Conservative Party.
"There's always someone else to blame when it comes to Justin Trudeau. But, here's the reality: responsibility and power go together," he said.
"If he wants the power, he has to take the responsibility and come to the floor of the House of Commons today and apologise."
Mr. Poilievre referred to the incident as the "most significant diplomatic embarrassment" in Canada's history.
While Canadian Jewish organizations have expressed their approval of Mr. Rota's resignation, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies has pointed out that there are still lingering questions regarding how this unfortunate situation came to pass.