Days after a 98-year-old Ukrainian Nazi soldier received a standing ovation in Canada’s House of Commons, some have renewed interest in Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s familial ties to the Nazi regime.
Over the last few years, publications have called on Freeland to come clean about her “Nazi collaborationist grandfather.” With some, like The Globe and Mail claiming Freeland has known for over two decades that her grandfather, Michael Chomiak, was the editor-in-chief of a Nazi newspaper in occupied Poland.
Although Freeland has previously said that articles proving her grandfather’s Nazi ties are “Russian disinformation,” it was discovered in 2017 that The Ukraine Archival Records held by the Province of Alberta had an entire file dedicated to him and his role during World War Two.
According to records, Chomiak was a journalist who started working for the Ukrainian Daily in 1928. From 1934 to 1939, he worked on the editorial staff. After the start of World War Two, Chomiak served as the editor for Krakivski Visti, an anti-Semitic Ukrainian newspaper hailed as the “flagship of Ukrainian journalism under Nazi occupation.”
After the war, Chomiak and his family moved to Alberta, where he worked at Sherritt Gordon Mines Limited in Fort Saskatchewan until retirement.
In addition to Freeland’s grandfather, screenshots of the preface in a book authored by her uncle, Myroslav Shkandrij, also began circulating online. One screenshot from In the Maelstrom, posted on X (formerly Twitter) by independent journalist Andy Lee, explains that Shkandrij’s father, Boris, formerly served in the Ukrainian Galician Division, a Nazi German military formation made up primarily of volunteers.
“My father volunteered for the Division and was sent to officer training before he joined the force in Slovakia in late 1944,” wrote Shkandrij.
“The Division is a contentious topic that has been the subject of polemics for several decades. Debates have taken place over what motivated individuals to join the Waffen-SS, war crimes they may have committed, their relationship to the Holocaust, and their release from [Prisoner of War] camps in 1949.”
Given Freeland’s heritage, her demands for former House Speaker Anthony Rota to do the “honorable thing” and resign for praising 98-year-old Nazi soldier Yaroslav Hunka in parliament sparked accusations of hypocrisy from commentators on social media.
Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, posted on X: “Just like Trudeau referred to Russian propaganda instead of taking responsibility and apologizing for the scandal, Chrystia Freeland initially denied that her grandfather was a Nazi and attributed it to Russian propaganda. Is Putin also responsible for the housing crisis?”
Sharing a photo of Freeland clapping for Hunka in the HoC, British political commentator Jim Ferguson highlighted her family’s history of supporting Nazis and, like many other X users, called for her resignation.
“According to emerging reports not only is she descended from Hitler supporting Ukrainian Nazis but she had family members who were also in the same Waffen SS Ukrainian Galician Division within the Wehrmacht.”
“Freeland must now resign,” continued Ferguson. “She is a disgrace to her office and a disgrace to Canada.”
Another X user who goes by the handle @rightblend shared a clip of Freeland, claiming she “knew what she was clapping for in the HoC. She clapped anyways.”
Referring to the Trucker Convoy across Canada in 2022 against COVID-19 mandates, he added: “She knew truckers protesting her government weren’t terrorists or extremists, but she froze their bank accounts anyways.”
Although Freeland nervously acknowledged how hurtful it is for many communities that members of Canadian parliament gave a former Nazi soldier a standing ovation in the HoC, when asked about reopening an investigation into Nazi war criminals living in Canada, she did not offer a clear response.