Assembly Speaker Anthony Rota recently made a lot of people angry when he praised a real Nazi in front of the whole house. Someone spoke up and called the man a “hero” from both Ukraine and Canada. Right now, Rota has quit.
Rota brought Yaroslav Hunka, who is 98 years old, to people’s attention on September 22 and praised him for fighting for Ukrainian freedom during World War II. The man got a standing ovation from the lawmakers. The event happened while Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was in the country.
He joined the SS and served in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division, which was made up of volunteers. During WWII, the group was often called “Adolf Hitler’s bodyguards.” It was illegal for the troops to join the German military because they were not German. Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish defense group, said that Rota was wrong to praise a man who was in a military unit that killed Jews.
FSWC is appalled that Canada’s Parliament gave a standing ovation to a Ukrainian veteran who served in a Nazi military unit during the Second World War implicated in the mass murder of Jews and others.— Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (@CanadianFSWC) September 24, 2023
An apology and explanation is owed.https://t.co/ZkzIkOCvBe
As of September 26, the group asked Rota to step down as speaker. The politician accepted what the Jewish community wanted and turned in his resignation letter. The speaker spoke to the Parliament after meeting with the leaders of the House of Commons. He said, “No one in this House is above any of us.” So, I have to step down as your speaker.” He then said again how sorry he was for what had happened. He had already said sorry and admitted that when he praised Hunka, he didn’t know that he was a Nazi.
After Rota quit, Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in another statement that they were glad to see him go.
FSWC welcomes MP Anthony Rota’s resignation as Speaker of the House of Commons in the aftermath of his recognition of a former member of the Nazi Waffen-SS in Canada's Parliament.https://t.co/PdOM9KxVW4— Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (@CanadianFSWC) September 26, 2023
The group said the event was a painful memory of how Canada failed to hold Nazi war criminals responsible after the war. A lot of them were instead let stay in the country and “live out their lives in comfort and safety.” They asked the government to make the files from the Deschenes Commission public. This group looked into the Nazis who fled to North America after the war.