Canada’s House of Commons speaker resigned on Tuesday after he again apologized for introducing a 98-year-old Ukrainian man who served in the Nazi SS as a “hero” just after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed a joint session of parliament.
Speaker Anthony Rota introduced Yaroslav Hanka of his constituency on Friday as “a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero,” prompting two rounds of applause from lawmakers and other guests. Who is the Jew?
But in the days that followed, many Jewish groups expressed anger and outrage, Mr. Hunga was a member of the volunteer Nazi unit known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, which fought alongside Germany during World War II and declared allegiance. To Hitler.
After days of calls for his resignation, Mr. Rota announced his resignation on a day when he was scheduled to host an annual garden party at his official country home.
“This House is beyond any of us,” he told fellow lawmakers. “I reiterate my deep regret.”
Mr. Rota made his call and Mr. Hanka initially apologized over the weekend for both his introduction, and noted that he “learned more information later.”
Mr. While Rota is a member of parliament from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, he is not a political power broker like his opponent in the US House of Representatives. Speakers in the Canadian House of Commons act as impartial judges in the chamber and are independent of the government. The speaker, not the government, controls all activities and behavior within the chamber and its employees.
Mr. Rota said it had not informed the governments of Canada or Ukraine of its plan to invite Mr Hanka. However, Mr. Trudeau’s political opponents immediately called on the House of Commons and the Prime Minister to issue a formal apology on behalf of Canada to Jews in Canada and abroad.
Mr. Trudeau was in Toronto for an event with auto parts manufacturers. The government’s home leader, Carina Gould, responded on his behalf and pointed out repeatedly Mr. The call for hanka was made without the knowledge of the government.
Ms. Gould, who is of Jewish and Holocaust survivor descent, Mr. Had he known Hanka’s past, he said, “I would never in a million years have stood and applauded someone who helped the Nazis.”
Lori Turnbull, a professor of public and international affairs at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said quiet diplomatic efforts may not be enough to repair the damage caused by the affair.
Mr. He said no one doubted that “this was a genuine error” on Rota’s part. “But that doesn’t matter,” she said. “The point is we’re still the country that got Zelensky to admire a guy who fought Nazis.”
He added: “I don’t see there being any resolution to this without some acknowledgment on the part of the Prime Minister that something really bad has happened.”
Professor Turnbull said Mr. Rota said it was inappropriate and unusual for his guest list to bypass the Prime Minister’s office.
But Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said Mr. The Conservative leader who leads Trudeau’s Liberals, Mr. Mr. Trudeau He accused them of not vetting guests who joined lawmakers for Zelensky’s speech.
Ann-Clara Vaillancourt, the prime minister’s spokeswoman, said responsibility for event security clearances rests with the Commons, not with any police, security or intelligence agency that reports to the government.
Mr. The first call for Rota to step down came from Jagmeet Singh, head of the centre-left New Democratic Party. They met with leaders of all parties in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Rota served as a prelude to a planned lunchtime meeting.
Mr. Hours before Rota’s announcement, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Industry Minister and the Leader of the House of Commons government all told reporters that he should resign.
In the House of Commons, the opposition Conservatives said the incident was a Russian propaganda play. Cooperation between supporters of Ukrainian independence and Nazi forces during World War II is a key element of Moscow’s false narrative that the current government in Kiev has been infiltrated by neo-Nazis.
The 14th Waffen SS Division was formed by volunteers from the Galicia region, which now spans southeastern Poland and parts of western Ukraine. After the Soviet occupation of western Ukraine in 1939, the creation of the unit in 1943 made Ukrainians eager to fight for their independence, said Dominique Arel, chair of Ukrainian studies at the University of Ottawa.
“Having been trained by SS officers, you can imagine the kind of political indoctrination they received,” he said. Even if their motives are independent, Mr. The Arel unit “fought and trained for the Nazis. There’s no question about that.”
Canada has long taken the position that membership of the 14th Waffen SS Division is not a war crime, although individuals can be prosecuted for specific atrocities. A National Commission was decided In 1985 Canada has no evidence linking former members of the sect to war crimes. Jewish groups have criticized that stance, and Mr. Outrage over Hunga calls for reassessment.