(UnitedVoice.com) – Canada’s Assembly Speaker Anthony Rota recently caused outrage when he praised a literal Nazi on the floor of parliament. The speaker called the man a Ukrainian and Canadian “hero.” Now, Rota has resigned.
On September 22, Rota drew attention to 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka and praised him for fighting for Ukrainian independence during World War II. Parliament gave the man a standing ovation. The incident occurred during a visit by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Hunka served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a volunteer Nazi unit. During WWII, the unit was often referred to as “Adolf Hitler’s bodyguards.” Because the soldiers weren’t German, they were not allowed to officially join the German military. The Jewish advocacy group, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, issued a statement condemning Rota for praising a man who belonged to a military unit that killed Jews.
FSWC is appalled that Canada’s Parliament gave a standing ovation to a Ukrainian veteran who served in a Nazi military unit during the Second World War implicated in the mass murder of Jews and others.
An apology and explanation is owed.https://t.co/ZkzIkOCvBe
— Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (@CanadianFSWC) September 24, 2023
On September 26, the organization called for Rota to step down as speaker. The politician respected the wishes of the Jewish community and tendered his resignation. After a meeting with the House of Commons leadership, the speaker gave a speech in front of Parliament and said, “No one in this House is above any of us. Therefore, I must step down as your speaker.” He went on to reiterate how much he regretted what transpired. He’d previously apologized and admitted that he didn’t know Hunka was a Nazi when he applauded him.
Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued another statement after Rota resigned, saying they welcomed it.
FSWC welcomes MP Anthony Rota’s resignation as Speaker of the House of Commons in the aftermath of his recognition of a former member of the Nazi Waffen-SS in Canada's Parliament.https://t.co/PdOM9KxVW4
— Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (@CanadianFSWC) September 26, 2023
The organization said the incident was a painful reminder that Canada had failed to hold Nazi war criminals accountable after the war. Instead, many were allowed to “live out their lives in comfort and security” in the country. They called on the government to release the files related to the Deschenes Commission, which investigated the Nazis who fled to the North American nation after the war.
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