Canadian House Speaker resigns over honored Nazi soldier controversy

 September 27, 2023

Canada's Speaker of the House resigned Tuesday following a controversy that included a former Nazi member being given a standing ovation in Parliament.

The 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran appeared during a reception for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The statement

“I have acted as your humble servant, carrying out the important responsibilities of this position to the very best of my abilities. The work of this House is above any of us. Therefore, I must step down as your Speaker,” Rota said at 2 p.m. ahead of Tuesday’s question period.

“I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the House," he added.

The background

"Just after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an address in the House of Commons on Friday, Canadian lawmakers gave 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka a standing ovation when Speaker Anthony Rota drew attention to him. Rota introduced Hunka as a war hero who fought for the First Ukrainian Division," the Associated Press reported.

"Observers over the weekend began to publicize the fact that the First Ukrainian Division also was known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis," it added.

Trudeau speaks

"Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday it was 'extremely upsetting that this happened.'"

"This is something that is deeply embarrassing to the parliament of Canada and by extension to all Canadians," he told reporters.

Jewish groups applauded the decision but remained concerned over how the incident occurred.

The incident comes after Zelensky previously traveled to New York where he spoke at the U.N. He also traveled to Washington where he met with President Joe Biden and members of Congress.

The concerning situation in Canada adds to issues surrounding Ukraine's conflict with Russia and Western nations seeking to support the former Soviet republic against Russian aggression, now over a year and a half since its start in February 2022 launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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