Canada Lectures U.N. on ‘Systemic Racism’ amid Nazi Homage Scandal

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 09: Bob Rae, Canadian ambassador to the UN listens as U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff speaks during the Economic and Social Council session about “Globalizing Efforts to Combat Antisemitism” at the United Nations World Headquarters on February 9, 2023 in New York City. Emhoff …
John Lamparski/Getty

The Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, represented his country at the General Assembly on Tuesday with a speech urging countries to “end systemic racism,” “walk the path towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” and “protect and promote” LGBTQ2IA+ individuals.

Rae’s speech followed an incident in the Canadian Parliament in which lawmakers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offered two standing ovations to Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old veteran of the Second World War-era Waffen-SS paramilitary.

The Canadian Parliament’s House Speaker Anthony Rota introduced the Nazi soldier as “a veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today even at his age of 98.”

Nazi Germany is one of history’s deadliest and most totalitarian implementers of systemic racism in history, enacting a genocide that killed 6 million Jews – and also targeted Roma people and suspected homosexuals – in a quest to establish a racially “pure” state. Canada declared war on Nazi Germany and lost 45,400 troops fighting against the forces Hunka is said to have volunteered for.

Rota resigned from his position on Tuesday for his role in orchestrating an homage to a Nazi, expressing “profound regret” that the incident happened, but critics say he fell on his sword to protect Prime Minister Trudeau, who they allege had knowledge of the planned introduction of Hunka beforehand.

Rae did not mention the ongoing controversy during his United Nations address, though he did sing the praises of being apologetic to the audience.

“The health of our planet, our people, our institutions, and our global economy are at serious risk. This diagnosis was reinforced to me during a recent conversation with Wilton Littlechild,” Rae narrated, “a former Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations and member of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He implored Canada – and all of us here at the UN – not to look at the issues in isolation.”

“We also continue to search for ways to break down gender barriers and end systemic racism,” Rae declared. “To protect and promote the rights of Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual individuals and communities, in all their diversity. And to walk the path towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

“Because, with full humility and in recognition of our own faults, Canada has found strength in diversity, purpose in equity, and unity in inclusion,” he concluded.

Rae took pains to note that New York, where the United Nations headquarters is located, is “the traditional territory of the Lenape people” in the opening of his speech.

Elsewhere in the address, Rae celebrated that the radical leftist government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “admitting more immigrants into Canada than ever before.” He detailed a recent visit to the Darien Gap, a dangerous jungle where at least hundreds of refugees and would-be immigrants die in an attempt to reach the United States. The largest number of those crossing the Darien Gap are believed to be Venezuelan refugees, fleeing the poverty and repression in their country brought about by two decades of socialist rule. Dictator Nicolás Maduro has responded to global condemnation of his regime’s treatment of his citizens by claiming the Venezuelan migrant crisis, the largest on Earth, does not exist.

Rae blamed the situation in on climate change.

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“Conflict is the main driver of this global crisis, as are climate change, natural disasters and economic insecurity,” Rae said in the French-language portion of his address. “People seeking to cross the Darien region are fleeing these factors of shift. The many people who seek to cross the Darien region have told me shows the consequences of our action – or inaction – here at the United Nations.”

Rae addressed Ukraine at the end of his remarks, but did not mention the veneration of a Ukrainian Nazi soldier in his Parliament.

“The Charter clearly commits us all to end the scourge of war. The Russian Federation signed the Charter. And yet, despite that signature, for 580 days the Russian Federation has waged an illegal and immoral war of aggression against a fellow member of this organization, Ukraine,” Rae narrated. “The costs are staggering. Above all, there is an unimaginable cost counted in Ukrainian lives. In hospitals and schools bombed, people displaced, and children abducted and forcibly deported.”

“Canada will continue to explore every measure to support Ukraine as it continues to defend itself, its people, its identity, its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Rae promised.

Back home, Rota, the now-former House Speaker, is the only Canadian politician facing consequences for honoring a Nazi soldier.

“I have acted as your humble servant, carrying out the important responsibilities of this position to the very best of my abilities. The work of this House is above any of us. Therefore, I must step down as your Speaker,” Rota announced on Tuesday. “I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the House.”

Trudeau, who stood and applauded Hunka alongside an enthusiastic Zelensky last week, replied to criticism of his behavior on Monday by conceding that the incident was “extremely upsetting” but warning critics to beware of unspecified “Russian disinformation.”

“I think it’s going to be really important that all of us push back against Russian disinformation and continue our steadfast unequivocal support for Ukraine,” Trudeau warned.

The government of Poland announced in a letter on Tuesday it is investigating Hunka’s record and may seek to extradite him for the prosecution of war crimes.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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