The speaker of Canada’s House of Commons resigned after inviting a Ukrainian Nazi Veteran to attend a special session of parliament, calling him a “hero”, and encouraging a standing ovation in presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Anthony Rota resigned as a speaker on Tuesday after meeting with party leaders in Ottawa, reports The Guardian. “This house is above any of us,” he said.
Many Canadian politicians criticized Rota’s acting and asked for a resignation. The government house leader said Rota should do the “honorable thing” and resign.
The Conservative party leader, Pierre Poilievre, said that Trudeau had “brought shame on Canada” after the government failed to prevent honoring a Nazi.
On Friday, Canada’s parliament welcomed Zelenskiy, and after his speech, Rota welcomed 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka and called him a “war hero” who fought for the First Ukrainian Division.
Members of the Canadian parliament, along with Zelenskiy and Trudeau applauded Hunka. Zelenskiy raised his fist in acknowledgment as Hunka saluted from the gallery during two separate standing ovations.
Over the weekend it was discovered that Hunka was a member of the Waffen-SS “Galicia” Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a volunteer unit of non-Germans, but under the command of the Nazis.
The Waffen-SS was found guilty of war crimes during the Nuremberg tribunals.
Jewish groups condemn Hunka’s invitation to the Congress. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies said that the “Galicia” Division “was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable”.
Rota said he had “subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision […] I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my action.”
In addition, Poland gained interest in the case, where the education minister said he wanted Hunka to be extradited.