Canadian House Speaker Anthony Rota has resigned after it was revealed Parliament had honored a man who previously served as a Nazi Waffen-SS soldier last week.
Last Friday, former Nazi soldier, Yaroslav Hunka, was honored in Canada’s Parliament as Speaker Rota recognized him as a Canadian-Ukrainian war hero.
Rota issued an initial apology after Hunka was revealed to have belonged to a Nazi division during WWII, though Parliament members called for the Speaker’s resignation.
On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Rota was “reflecting now on how to ensure the dignity of the House going forward.”
Shortly after, CTV News reported Rota had resigned as Speaker.
“The work of this House is above any of us. Therefore, I must step down as your speaker,” said Rota announcing his resignation.
BREAKING: House Speaker Anthony Rota resigns over Nazi veteran invite https://t.co/xgJtyQi6ZO
— CTV News (@CTVNews) September 26, 2023
“Obviously, it’s extremely upsetting that this happened,” Trudeau told reporters on Monday. “The Speaker acknowledged his mistake and has apologized.”
“This is something that is deeply embarrassing to the Parliament of Canada and by extension to all Canadians,” he added.
Trudeau noted Jewish holiday Yom Kippur was currently underway and added it was “really important that all of us push back against Russian propaganda [and] Russian disinformation and continue our steadfast and unequivocal support for Ukraine.”
Hunka’s honoring in the Canadian Parliament came during a session in which President Volodomyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine thanked the Canadian Parliament for the country’s support during Ukraine’s war with Russia.
“We have here in the chamber today a Ukrainian-Canadian veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today, even at his age of 98,” Rota said Friday introducing Hunka. “He’s a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service. Thank you.”
After Hunka’s past was revealed, Rota issued an apology.
“In my remarks following the address of the president of Ukraine, I recognized an individual in the gallery,” Rota said. “I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to do so.”
“No one, including fellow parliamentarians and the Ukraine delegation, was aware of my intention or of my remarks before I delivered them,” Rota continued. “This initiative was entirely my own, the individual in question being from my riding [district] and having been brought to my attention.”
“I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world. I accept full responsibility for my actions,” he added.