Anthony Rota has resigned from his position as Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons amid backlash after he praised a 98 year old Nazi SS veteran in Parliament last Friday.
Rota said that “I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the House,” adding that his actions “caused pain to individuals and communities” and “other survivors of Nazi atrocities.”
On Friday, Rota praised 98 year old Yaroslav Hunka as “a Ukrainian-Canadian veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians,” further calling him a “a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service.” This was followed by a standing ovation by the entire Parliament, as well as from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was at the Canadian Parliament to bolster support for Ukrainian war efforts.
Canadian Parliament and Zelensky give a standing ovation to Yaroslav Hunka, who fought for the 14th division of the Waffen SS pic.twitter.com/7WrD3vchZ8
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) September 24, 2023
It was soon reported that Hunka served under the First Ukrainian Division, also known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the Nazi SS, which took part in anti-partisan operations in Poland and Slovakia, as well as frontline combat against the Soviets on the Eastern Front. While the unit itself was not specifically found guilty of committing war crimes by military tribunals after the war, the unit has been accused of having involvement in the massacre of Polish civilians.
The praise was quickly condemned by several Jewish organizations, opposition party leaders, and Russian officials. Rota issued an apology, stating “I regret my decision to do so, and accept full responsibility for my actions.”