Comedian Rob Schneider said he’s cancelled an upcoming visit to Canada after a parliamentary tribute last week honoured a Ukrainian Second World War veteran who fought for Nazi Germany.
On Friday, 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka was honoured in the House of Commons with a standing ovation across party lines. The tribute has triggered international outrage, as it was later revealed Hunka fought in Ukraine for the First Ukrainian Division, a German-armed Nazi military unit.
During his speech, House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota described Hunka as a “war hero.” He invited Hunka to be honoured while Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, was present for his first official visit since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
On Monday, Schneider told his social media followers he “just canceled my trip to Canada” in reaction to the incident.
The 59-year-old comedian, whose father is Jewish, described the tribute as “beyond the pale,” “despicable” and “outrageous.”
Schneider also called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a tyrant and referenced the “peaceful trucker protests” that blocked several areas around Parliament Hill for three weeks and subsequently led to dozens of arrests. Demonstrations also shut down at least four border crossings elsewhere in the country.
The former Saturday Night Live cast member wrote several more posts on X, formerly Twitter, chastizing “stupid f—ing Canadians” for not knowing Hunka fought for the Nazis.
“This guy fought for Hitler! Not like what we call people Hitler today. THEE Hitler! Like in actual Adolf Hitler,” Schneider wrote.
He said even Canadian actor William Shatner should apologize.
“I also feel I should apologize now for once DATING a girl who was Canadian,” Schneider prodded. “I apologize. I also apologize for every Hockey game I’ve watched and for all the maple syrup I’ve drizzled on my pancakes.”
Global News reached out to Schneider’s publicist for comment but has not received a reply.
On Friday, Rota described Hunka to the House of Commons as a veteran who fought for “Ukrainian independence against the Russians.” In reality, the First Ukrainian Division to which Hunka belonged (also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division) was a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis.
Though Rota apologized for honouring Hunka in Parliament, he resigned on Tuesday following pressure from the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and Jewish groups across the country.
His resignation takes effect at the end of business day Wednesday.
“I must step down as your speaker. I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the House during the joint address to Parliament and President Zelenskyy,” Rota said in the House of Commons.
“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. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
“My intention was to show that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is not a new one; that Ukrainians have unfortunately been subject to foreign aggression for far too long and that this must end,” Rota said on Monday.
“I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to recognize this individual. I wish to apologize to the House. I am deeply sorry that I have offended many with my gesture and remarks.”
Hunka is a constituent of Rota’s Ontario riding, Nipissing-Timiskaming.
Schneider is a comedian and actor best known for his stint as a cast member and writer for NBC’s series Saturday Night Live from 1988 to 1994. He went on to star in numerous films including Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Benchwarmers.
— With files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea