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KINSELLA: Open letter to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

We are sorry, and deeply apologize, that you were embarrassed during your recent visit to Canada

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognize Yaroslav Hunka, who was in attendance, in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognize Yaroslav Hunka, who was in attendance, in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Photo by Patrick Doyle /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Dear President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,

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It is unlikely that you will ever read this open letter from a newspaper columnist in far-away Canada. It is unlikelier still that it will achieve its purpose. But I, we, will try, just the same, to say this: We are so, so sorry.

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We are sorry, and deeply apologize, that you were embarrassed during your recent visit to Canada, and your appearance in our nation’s supreme legislative chamber, the House of Commons.

While you were there – as you, and the entire world know by now – you were asked to stand and applaud a man who had been a proud member of the Nazi Waffen SS during the Second World War. A man whose compatriots slaughtered untold numbers of Polish civilians and Jews and others. Fascists, who killed innocents.

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As someone who is presently leading a country that is literally fighting fascists for its survival – as a man who is a proud Jew – we say: Words cannot properly express the depth and magnitude of our embarrassment and shame. Words cannot do that.

But words, sometimes, are all that we have. And words expressing regret – and the sincerest of apologies – have not been heard by you. You have not heard them, we are told, by the one man who has an ethical and moral obligation to offer them.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

You are engaged in an existential battle for the survival of your people, so it is unlikely you have paid close attention to Mr. Trudeau and apologies. He is quite good at them, having offered up dozens over the years – for the misdeeds of others. But for himself, and for the misdeeds of his own government? He is not very good at that.

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He always makes certain to be photographed with you, to be hugging you, to be singing your praises. But when a grave moment arises like this one – when he, personally, needs to account for providing the Russian propaganda machine with fodder they will use over and over against you – he disappears. He is nowhere to be found.

We know this, because we checked. My colleague Brian Lilley got in touch with his office on Tuesday to ask if Justin Trudeau had called you, personally, to apologize. Brian was curtly informed that a “read out” – in effect, an official document that summarizes the content of calls and meetings between important government officials – had not been issued. Ipso facto, no call had taken place.

This writer checked again on Friday. Mr. Trudeau’s office was asked “whether the Prime Minister had spoken to the President of Ukraine regarding the presence of a former Waffen SS member in the House of Commons, subsequent to his appearance there.”

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A functionary in PMO eventually responded with this: “Our government has remained engaged with President Zelenskyy’s office and the Ukrainian government. We have also remained in close communication with Jewish groups throughout the week.”

“Office.”

Notably absent, there, is clear confirmation that Canada’s Prime Minister has spoken to Ukraine’s president. Silence on that part.

And silence is what you have heard, too. Five long days passed between the appearance of the aging SS member in the House, and Mr. Trudeau’s statement – in which he actually said all of us Canadians had an obligation to “push back against Russian propaganda.”

Given that Mr. Trudeau leads the government that literally gave Russia its biggest propaganda victory of the entire war, we Canadians found that statement a bit much. For Mr. Trudeau, however, it was standard operating procedure: take no personal responsibility, ever, and bleat that his own misdeeds represent a “learning moment” for everyone else.

But we digress, and you are busy with more important matters. You are fighting for actual survival.

Here, all good and decent Canadians – and there are many, recent evidence notwithstanding – regard you as the Churchill of our times. We see you as the leader of the free world. We see you as the man who represents perhaps the last and best hope for democracy over tyranny.

As such, we say again: We are so sorry. We apologize.

And, yes, you should instead be hearing those words directly from the Prime Minister of Canada. But, as you have seen this week, he is less of a man than you.

Sincerely,

Many Canadians

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