Canada's House Speaker Resigns With 'Profound Regret'

Anthony Rota invited man who fought with Nazis to Parliament during Zelensky visit
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
Updated Sep 26, 2023 3:01 PM CDT
Canada Pol Sorry About Honoring Man Who Fought With Nazis
Yaroslav Hunka, right, waits for the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Onatario on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.   (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP)
UPDATE Sep 26, 2023 3:01 PM CDT

The speaker of Canada's House of Commons has resigned under pressure from fellow lawmakers. Liberal Party MP Anthony Rota stepped down as speaker Tuesday, expressing "profound regret" for inviting a man who fought with the Nazis to Parliament during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit last week, the CBC reports. Ukrainian-Canadian Yaroslav Hunka, 98, received a standing ovation after Rota introduced him as a "war hero." Rota later said he was unaware of Hunka's Nazi links. Karina Gould, the Liberal leader in the House of Commons, said lawmakers had lost confidence in Rota. "This is something that has brought shame and embarrassment to all of Parliament and indeed all Canadians," she said, per the AP.

Sep 25, 2023 1:00 AM CDT

The speaker of Canada's House of Commons on Friday honored a Ukrainian veteran who, he said, "fought [for] the Ukrainian independence against the Russians, and continues to support the troops today." Anthony Rota called Yaroslav Hunka, 98, a Canadian-Ukrainian war hero as Hunka received a standing ovation from members of Parliament, who were gathered for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit that day, Politico reports. What Rota apparently didn't realize: Hunka fought with the Nazis during World War II. Rota apologized for the gaffe Sunday after the uproar that ensued, the Washington Post reports. He said no one else was aware in advance that he planned to make the remarks.

"I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to" honor Hunka, Rota said, per CNN. "I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world." Hunka fought with the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division, a unit of the Waffen-SS, which was formed by Heinrich Himmler and which notoriously took part in mass shootings and guarding Nazi concentration camps, among other things. The division Hunka fought with was made up of ethnic Ukrainians. According to Jewish human rights organization B'nai Brith Canada, the Nazi military unit was made up of "ultra-nationalist ideologues" who "dreamed of an ethnically homogenous Ukrainian state and endorsed the idea of ethnic cleansing." (Read more Canada stories.)

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