By Scott Taylor
On Sunday, April 29, in the western Ukraine city of Lviv hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets chanting anti-Semitic Nazi slogans while repeatedly thrusting their right arms forward in the straight arm Nazi salute. The purpose of the parade was to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation of the 14th Waffen SS Division ‘Galician’. This unit was comprised of Ukrainian volunteers, many of them from Lviv who served as members of Adolf Hitler’s SS killing machine under the direct control of Heinrich Himmler.
Naturally enough, the Lviv parade honoring SS troopers drew the condemnation of the international Jewish community. Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee told the Times of Israel that this Nazi parade was “a scandalous event that should not be allowed to happen in Ukraine in which murderers of Jews and others are glorified.”
Andrew Srulevitch, director of European Affairs at the Anti-Defamation league wrote on Twitter, “Ukrainian leaders need to condemn such marches, where Ukrainian extremists celebrate Ukrainian Nazi SS divisions (1st Galician), giving Nazi salutes in uniform in the middle of a major Ukrainian city.”
The bizarre and unsettling tribute parade to Nazi killers also drew stern rebuke from none other than the U.S. Congress. A recent letter signed by 57 Congressmen strongly condemned Ukrainian legislation, which they claimed “glorifies Nazi collaborators.”
Of course in Canada there was no news of this incident and certainly no official condemnation. That is because such behaviour runs counter to the current official narrative of ‘Russia bad, Ukraine good’. One British media report went so far as to claim that the Ukrainian Nazi supporters in the Lviv parade were ‘playing into the hands of the Russian propagandists”. So marching around in a Nazi uniform spewing anti-Semitic slogans is only a bad thing if the Russians can use it as a weapon in the so-called information war?
Have we lost so much perspective already that everything is viewed through the prism of vulnerability to Russian meddling? Glorifying Nazis is bad, period.
For Canada’s part, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been on the opposite tack from Israel and the U.S. when it comes to relations with Ukraine. Instead of condemning the Ukrainian leadership for what the U.S. Congressmen’s letter described as the “rise of this hateful [Nazi] ideology”, Freeland has instead been cozying up to her counterpart from Ukraine.
On Sunday, April 22, on the eve of the G7 Summit in Toronto, Freeland hosted a brunch in her private home. In attendance that day were all the Foreign Ministers from the G7 countries, with a plus one in the form of Pavlo Klimkin, Foreign Minister of Ukraine. No, Ukraine is definitely not a member of the G7, but Freeland wanted Klimkin front and center to make sure he put the ongoing crisis in Ukraine at the top of the G7 Summit agenda.
That’s all well and good, as a lit powder keg such as Ukraine in the middle of Europe, polarized between NATO and nuclear-armed Russia is certainly a global concern. Freeland has also never denied the fact that she is proud of her Ukrainian-Canadian roots.
In addition to giving Klimkin an inside edge at the G7 meeting, Canada has been at the forefront of providing support – both military and monetary to the Ukraine regime that seized power in Kiev in 2013.
That should give us a lot of clout when it comes to chastising Ukraine for allowing such blatant glorification of Nazism.
It is not an issue of allowing freedom of speech in a democratic society; the very basis of Nazi ideology is rooted in hate.
Freeland would be doing Ukraine a huge favor should she join in condemnation of Nazi glorification with a little tough love; end the Nazi parades or Canada turns off the aid money tap and brings home our military advisors.
This same message should be delivered to the Latvian leaders in Riga. If they insist on staging a Nazi parade every year on March 19 to honour the SS Latvian Legion, then our military commitment to that country will be terminated.
We are in the driver’s seat here, and we say our military is protecting Canadian values. In that case we need to tell our allies in Ukraine and Latvia that glorifying the perpetrators of the Holocaust is not a Canadian value.