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Canadian Speaker Resigns Amid Controversy Over Nazi Veteran Guest

Canadian Speaker Resigns Amid Controversy Over Nazi Veteran Guest Latest News

In a turn of events that has captured international attention, Anthony Rota, the Speaker of the Canadian House, tendered his resignation on Tuesday. This decision followed the controversial invitation of a Nazi veteran to a speech delivered by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.

Rota had expressed his regret on Monday regarding the attendance of 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka during Zelensky’s address to Canadian parliamentarians the previous Friday. Despite the initial applause and cheers for Hunka from lawmakers across the spectrum, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the pressure on Rota to step down intensified over the weekend. This was especially pronounced after the incident garnered significant attention from global entities, notably the Russian and Polish governments.

Read also: South African Parliament Votes to Sever Ties with Israel Amid Gaza Conflict

In his resignation announcement on Tuesday, Rota emphasized the importance of the House’s work, stating,

The work of this house is above any of us. Therefore, I must step down as your speaker. I reiterate my profound regret for my error.

The opposition New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois parties were particularly vocal in their calls for Rota’s departure. Peter Julian, the leader of the New Democrats, characterized the invitation as

an unforgivable error which puts the entire House in disrepute.

While Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party to which Rota belongs, did not explicitly demand Rota’s resignation, he did express his dismay, labeling the event as

deeply embarrassing for the House and for Canada.

During the address, Rota had praised Hunka, referring to him as <q>a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero… who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians.</q> However, Rota omitted the fact that Hunka had served in Hitler’s elite Waffen SS. Hunka was later identified by the Associated Press as a member of the First Ukrainian Division, a unit established by the Nazis in 1943.

This division, also recognized as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, is infamous for its heinous acts against Jewish and Polish communities during its operations on the Eastern Front.

The Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) issued a statement on Sunday, clarifying,

There should be no confusion that this unit was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable.

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