Rota's resignation came amid the fiasco surrounding Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian who had served in a Nazi SS unit during World War II and later moved to Canada. He expressed his decision to step down, alongside his deep regret over the matter.
"I particularly want to extend my deepest apologies to Jewish communities in Canada and around the world," said the MP for the Nipissing-Timiskaming electoral district in the province of Ontario. "I accept full responsibility for my action."
Hours before Rota announced his resignation, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly called the mistake completely unacceptable. "I think the speaker should listen to members of the House and step down," she said. "I don’t think there’s any alternative."
The Liberal government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also took a hit for "bringing shame" on the country. MP Pierre Poilievre of the Conservative (Tory) Party criticized Trudeau for his failure to have its “massive diplomatic and intelligence apparatus vet and prevent honoring a Nazi."
Aside from the Canadian Tories, other opposition parties have expressed their dissatisfaction, stating that Rota's apology is insufficient. MP Peter Julian of the New Democratic Party asserted that the House speaker must maintain an impeccable reputation. He added that this incident regarding Hunka has brought disrepute to the entire House of Commons.
Meanwhile, other critics have accused Trudeau of attempting to deflect controversy by attributing the issue to "Russian disinformation." Journalist Glenn Greenwald was among those critics who questioned the Canadian leader and the broader tendency among Western elites to blame Moscow for their shortcomings.
It is worth noting that hundreds of Ukrainian SS veterans settled in Canada after the war, including Hunka – a member of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division, also known as the 1st Galician Division. In the 1980s, a Canadian commission of inquiry found that "charges of war crimes" against the Ukrainian SS division had "never been substantiated."
Despite this, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies said the division "was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable."
Hunka, 98, was born in 1925 in the village of Urman in the Second Polish Republic (now Ukraine). He volunteered to join the 1st Galician Division in 1943, and subsequently fought along the German Nazis against Russia's Red Army. He emigrated to Canada when WWII ended.
The Nazi veteran was thrust in the spotlight during the Sept. 22 visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Canada's House of Commons. Hunka got a standing ovation from the MPs present, with Rota calling him a "hero." But the eventual discovery of his Nazi ties triggered a wave of criticism from Jewish organizations, advocacy groups, and leaders across the world. (Related: Trudeau and Zelensky emphatically honored a Nazi SS soldier before the Canadian Parliament in "deeply embarrassing" incident.)
As Canada is reeling from the aftermath of its adulation of the Ukrainian Nazi, Poland made a move of its own. Przemyslaw Czarnek, Poland's education minister, urged Warsaw to initiate an extradition request for Hunka in connection with possible war crimes.
The issue surrounding Hunka's recognition is particularly sensitive for Poland, due to historical conflicts between Poles and Ukrainian nationalist groups during WWII. This controversy also arises as Ukraine-Poland relations have become strained over issues like a grain import ban and Poland's decision to cease arming Ukraine while focusing on its defense preparedness.
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Watch this video about the Canadian Parliament honoring the Ukrainian Nazi Yaroslav Hunka.
The video is from The Kokoda Kid channel on Brighteon.com.