The Speaker of the House of Commons in the Canadian parliament resigned on Tuesday after taking responsibility for celebrating a 98-year-old Ukrainian who served in a Nazi-controlled unit in World War II during a reception for President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Announcing his resignation as speaker, Liberal MP Anthony Rota said per public broadcaster CBC: “I have acted as your humble servant, carrying out the important responsibilities of this position to the very best of my abilities. The work of this House is above any of us. Therefore, I must step down as your Speaker,” Rota said at 2 p.m. ahead of Tuesday’s question period.
“I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the House.”
The resignation came hours after Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government called on him to step down on Tuesday morning. Rota has attempted to take the blame for inviting Waffen SS soldier Yaroslav Hunka to the Parliament, where he was given a resounding round of applause and a standing ovation from the entire house, including from Prime Minister Trudeau and President Zelensky.
However, others, including Conservative opposition party leader Pierre Poilievre said that Trudeau should accept part of the blame for the scandal, arguing that it is his government’s responsibility to vet all guests of the parliament for a state visit such as Zelensky’s last week.
Poilievre also criticised Trudeau for apparently ducking question time for the second straight day, asking: “Where is the prime minister? Why is he hiding?”
“Our nation’s reputation is in tatters. Will he stand up and apologize for this mess he helped create?” he continued. “Has there ever been a greater diplomatic embarrassment in the history of our country? I mean it literally. In coffee shops, in gyms and businesses and boardrooms around the world, people are reading about this massive and shameful disgrace that unfolded under the watch of a Liberal Speaker and a Liberal prime minister.
“And yet he can’t even show up for work. Where is he? Why is he hiding under a rock today?”
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) September 26, 2023
Trudeau, for his part, has so far refused to take any blame for the Hunka’s invitation or his personal celebration of the Nazi soldier. Instead, on Monday Trudeau used the political tactic of diversion, warning the public to be vigilant to “push back against Russian disinformation,” despite his own government admitting that it had honoured a Nazi.
Even with the speaker’s resignation on Tuesday, the political fallout is likely to continue, with the government of Poland considering launching steps to extradite the elderly soldier to potentially face justice for war crimes. While the Waffen SS as a whole was declared to have committed war crimes in the Nuremberg Trials, the 14th Waffen SS Grenadier Division, also known as the Galicia Division, was not specifically sanctioned.
However, the Nazi-controlled division — made up mostly of Ukrainian volunteers — has been implicated in alleged atrocities including a reported massacre of the Polish town of Huta Pieniacka, which prior to its destruction was a refuge for hundreds of Jews fleeing the Nazis.
In comments exclusively provided to Breitbart London, Polish government Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk said: “This is a great embarrassment for the Speaker of the Canadian parliament. The fact that he wasn’t aware of the historical facts concerning the Waffen-SS, or that he wasn’t briefed accordingly, and that a representative of the Waffen-SS was invited into the Canadian Parliament and applauded is a disgrace.
“However, I recognize the fact that the Speaker took personal responsibility for this error and quickly apologised.”
The Polish Ambassador to Canada, Witold Dzielski, also said that the Speaker has been forgiven for his mistake, saying earlier on Tuesday: Much [thanks] to the Speaker Anthony for a very open and detailed conversation on the past Friday recognition of a 14th Waffen Grenadier Division SS member in House of Commons. It was not intended. If the mistakes make us wiser and our bond stronger, so be it! Thank you Anthony!”
The ambassador has yet to make similar comments of Prime Minister Trudeau, who has yet to issue any apology for the incident.
Poland Considers War Crimes Extradition for WWII Nazi Applauded by Trudeau and Zelenskyhttps://t.co/Rek7N2h1JW
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 26, 2023
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