Following the controversial reception and approval of a Ukrainian individual with a history of serving in a Nazi-affiliated unit in Parliament, the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons stepped down from their position. After initially refusing to resign, Anthony Rota announced his resignation on Tuesday after meeting with party leaders in Ottawa.
“I hereby declare my resignation as your Speaker in the parliament,” he stated, underlining his profound regret. The world witnessed a wave of indignation following the recent tragedy that occurred last Friday. During a Friday visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Yaroslav Hunka, 98, received a standing ovation as Mr. Rota referred to him as a “hero.”
Mr. Rota acknowledges that he erred in extending an invitation to Mr. Hunka for the event, as he was unaware of Mr. Hunka’s association with the Nazi Party. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed deep concern over the occurrence of this situation. He informed the press, stating, “This situation is deeply humiliating for the Canadian Parliament and, in a broader sense, for the entire Canadian population.”
Mr. Hunka participated in the 14th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division during World War Two. This voluntary group, led by the Nazis, was primarily made up of ethnic Ukrainians. Although a court has not convicted the division of any war crimes, soldiers of the division are accused of murdering Polish and Jewish civilians. The extradition of Mr. Hunka was “taken measures” toward, according to Przemyslaw Czarnek, the minister of education in Poland, earlier on Tuesday.
The BBC was unable to contact Mr. Hunka or his family for a remark. They still haven’t responded to inquiries from Canadian media. Tuesday saw the addition of cabinet members calling for Mr. Rota to resign from all parties. Melanie Joly, the minister of foreign affairs, described the error as “absolutely unacceptable” hours before the Speaker tendered his resignation.
She remarked, “I believe the Speaker ought to heed the House members and resign.” There isn’t, in my opinion, any other option. Peter Julian, the New Democratic Party of Canada’s house leader, praised Mr. Rota’s resignation and referred to it as the “correct decision.”
The speaker’s choice to leave the podium was praised by Canadian Jewish organizations as well. B’nai Brith Canada’s CEO, Michael Mostyn, told the BBC that the issue “cannot end just with the speaker.” “We’re facing a situation in Canada where there’s a lack of awareness about our own history regarding individuals associated with the Nazi regime who managed to enter our country,” he remarked.
“This is a matter of great concern for our nation.” Even with Mr. Rota’s departure, criticism from Canada’s opposition leader, Pierre Poilievre of the Conservative Party, has not diminished. Speaking in parliament, Mr. Poilievre emphasized that Prime Minister Trudeau must undo the significant harm inflicted on Canada’s global standing. He challenged Mr. Trudeau to take action by apologizing for this significant and disgraceful setback, urging him to address the issue within the parliamentary setting.