The administration of Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, ordered the speaker of the House of Commons to step down on Tuesday after he permitted a man who served in a Nazi military unit during World War II to attend a speech by the president of Ukraine.
On Friday, right after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke in the House of Commons, Canadian legislators applauded Yaroslav Hunka, 98, when Speaker Anthony Rota called their attention to him.
Rota described Hunka as a First Ukrainian Division combatant and a military hero. Later on Tuesday, Rota will meet with the party leaders of the House of Commons. Rota’s resignation was demanded by two opposition parties on Monday, and government House leader Karina Gould stated on Tuesday that she thought parliamentarians had lost their way.
Gould claimed that without alerting the government or the Ukrainian delegation, Rota invited and honored Hunka. Gould replied, “It is time for him to act honorably. Melanie Joly, the foreign minister, also pushed him to step down.
The situation is completely intolerable. The Speaker should pay attention to the members and resign, Joly said, calling it a disgrace to the House and the people of Canada. Joly claimed that she discussed it with the Ukrainian authorities.
Rota responded on Tuesday when asked if he would stay in the position: “We’ll have to see about that, and I’m sure you’ll hear more about that later today.”
The 1st Ukrainian Division, a voluntarily joined force commanded by the Nazis, was also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division.
Before walking into a Cabinet meeting, Trudeau told reporters, “It’s a good thing that Speaker Rota apologized personally, and I am sure that he is reflecting now on the dignity of the House going forward.” Mark Holland, minister of health for Canada, described it as “incredibly embarrassing.” Rota was also urged to resign by the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies.
Speaker Rota’s decision to invite a former member of the Waffen-SS, which is notorious for its involvement in Holocaust atrocities, to Canada’s Parliament has left a stain on our nation’s venerable legislature and has profound implications both in Canada and globally, the center said in a statement.
“While we acknowledge his apology, Speaker Rota’s decision has left a stain on our country’s venerable legislature with profound implications both in Canada and globally,” the center said.
“This episode has undermined the integrity of all 338 members of Parliament and has given Russia a propaganda success, detracting from what was a momentously crucial show of solidarity between Canada and Ukraine.
The Jewish community in Canada, Holocaust survivors, veterans, and other victims of the Nazi system have all suffered greatly as a result. Rota, who represents Hunka’s area, claimed sole responsibility for inviting and recognizing Hunka in his apologies on Sunday.
The speaker’s office revealed on Monday that Rota’s son got in touch with Hunka’s regional office to inquire about his ability to attend Zelensky’s address.