Justin Trudeau
Justin TrudeauREUTERS/Patrick Doyle

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday formally apologized after the speaker of the House of Commons praised a Nazi veteran in the chamber while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was present.

Trudeau also said Canada had reached out to Ukraine and Zelenskyy through diplomatic channels to apologize.

"On behalf of all of us in this House, I would like to present unreserved apologies for what took place on Friday and to President Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian delegation for the position they were put in," Trudeau told the House on Wednesday, as quoted by the Reuters news agency.

"For all of us who were present to have unknowingly recognized this individual was a terrible mistake and a violation of the memory of those who suffered grievously at the hands of the Nazi regime," he added.

Trudeau’s apology comes a day after House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota announced his resignation over the invitation and honoring of Yaroslav Hunka, 98, a Polish-born Ukrainian who served in one of Adolf Hitler's Waffen SS units during World War Two. He later emigrated to Canada.

Hunka lives in Rota's parliamentary constituency. Trudeau said the Liberal government had no responsibility for vetting who the speaker had invited.

During his resignation speech, Rota reiterated his “profound regret” for recognizing Hunka.

“That public recognition has caused pain to individuals and communities, including the Jewish community in Canada and around the world, in addition to survivors of Nazi atrocities in Poland among other nations,” Rota said in the House of Commons.

Jewish groups had demanded an apology over the incident and Rota did apologize on Sunday, but that was not enough to quiet down the calls on him to step down.