The Speaker of the House of Canada has resigned after celebrating a Ukrainian veteran who fought for a Nazi unit in World War II.


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Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota speaks on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on September 25, 2023.


Ottawa
CNN

Canadian House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota resigned from his post on Tuesday after he praised a Ukrainian veteran who fought for a Nazi military unit during World War II.

On Friday, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s joint address to parliament, Ruta hailed 98-year-old Yaroslav Hinka as a Ukrainian-Canadian war hero who “fought for Ukraine’s independence against the then Russian aggressors, And continues to support the troops today.”

But in the days that followed, human rights and Jewish organizations denounced Ruta’s identity, saying that Hanka had served in a Nazi military unit known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS.

“This House is above any of us, so I must step down as your Speaker,” Rota said in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, reiterating his deep regret for his mistake.

“This public recognition has hurt individuals and communities, including the Jewish community in Canada and around the world, survivors of Nazi atrocities in Poland, among other nations,” added Liberal Party member Rota. “I take full responsibility for my actions.”

Rota’s recognition of Hanka last week prompted a standing ovation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called this incident extremely shameful.

The 14th Waffen Grenadier Division was part of the Nazi SS organization, which was decriminalized in 1946 by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which determined that the Nazi group had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a statement, Jewish human rights organization B’nai Brith Canada condemned the Ukrainian volunteers who served in the unit as “extremely nationalist ideologues” who “dream of an ethnically homogeneous Ukrainian state and ethnic cleansing.” supported the idea.”

Dave Chen/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hands with House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on in Ottawa last Friday.

B’nai Birth Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said the recognition of Hanka was “outrageous,” adding, “We cannot allow history to be whitewashed.”

“Canadian soldiers fought and gave their lives to rid the world of the evils of Nazi brutality,” he said.

Rota apologized in a statement on the floor of Parliament on Sunday and Tuesday, when he said he had “become aware of further information that has caused me to regret my decision to recognize this individual.”

Ruta took full responsibility, saying it was his decision alone to recognize Hunka, who Ruta said was from his constituency.

“Nobody – not even any of you, fellow parliamentarians, or the Ukrainian delegation – was aware of my intentions or my remarks before they were delivered,” he said.

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