The speaker of Canada’s House of Commons lower chamber, Anthony Rota, announced his resignation on Tuesday. This decision came shortly after he publicly praised a former Nazi soldier, Yaroslav Hunka, during a session in the House honoring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Rota acknowledged that he had made a mistake and accepted full responsibility for his actions. His resignation will take effect on Wednesday, and a deputy speaker will assume his duties until then.
The incident involving Hunka, who served in one of Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS units during World War Two, caused significant controversy. Hunka received two standing ovations from lawmakers, but Russia condemned the incident as outrageous. Rota’s public recognition of Hunka caused pain to individuals and communities, including the Jewish community in Canada and around the world.
The episode played into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s narrative that he sent his army into Ukraine to “demilitarise and denazify” the country. However, Kyiv and Western allies argue that this charge is baseless. The controversy surrounding Rota’s actions also overshadowed Ukrainian President Zelenskiy’s visit to Canada, where he expressed gratitude for the aid and weapons provided by the country since Russia’s invasion in 2022.
Foreign Minister Melanie Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both called for Rota’s resignation. While opposition parties blamed the Liberal government for the affair, Rota took sole responsibility for what had transpired. It is worth noting that Hunka resides in Rota’s parliamentary constituency.
In conclusion, Anthony Rota’s resignation as the speaker of Canada’s House of Commons lower chamber comes in the wake of his public praise of a former Nazi soldier. Rota acknowledged his mistake and accepted full responsibility for causing pain to various communities. The incident also contributed to the ongoing narrative surrounding Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
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