Canada: resignation of the speaker of Parliament after the tribute to an ex-Nazi during the visit of Zelensky

On Friday, September 22, a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran was warmly applauded by MPs and visitors attending President Volodymyr Zelensky's speech. Except that a little later, a Jewish organization discovered that Yaroslav Hunka had actually fought in a Nazi division. This incident in the Canadian Parliament brought the country's political institution into disrepute.

Volodymyr Zelensky and Justin Trudeau at the Canadian Parliament during the tribute to a Ukrainian veteran who fought with the Nazis during World War II on September 22, 2023. AP - Patrick Doyle

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When at his initiative, the Speaker of the House of Commons of the Canadian Parliament paid tribute to an early Ukrainian fighter against the Soviets, a citizen of his riding, on the occasion of the visit of Volodymyr Zelensky - of Jewish faith - he knew nothing of his Nazi past. Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran, is accused of fighting in the SS.

The speaker of Canada's House of Commons, Anthony Rota, apologized Sunday for recognizing a man who fought for a Nazi military unit during World War II. Canadian lawmakers gave 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka a standing ovation when Rota drew attention to him.

— The Associated Press (@AP) September 25, 2023

Informed, two opposition parties first asked for the resignation of the president, Anthony Rota reports our correspondent in Quebec, Pascale Guéricolas. Just like a little later the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mélanie Joly believes that this incident has embarrassed all Canadians. Anthony Rota no longer had the choice to resign from office, a first in Canada for the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.


It is with a heavy heart that I rise to inform members of my resignation as Speaker of the House of Commons," Rota told Parliament, speaking of "his deep regret for his mistake." A tribute deemed "unacceptable" and "deeply embarrassing" according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Opposition parties demand apology from Prime Minister

However, some opposition parties want to go even further. They are asking the Prime Minister for an apology. An apology that would be addressed to Jewish communities, allied countries and not to mention President Zelensky whose visit was marred by this heartbreaking incident.

On Tuesday, September 26, the Polish Minister of Education announced that he had requested an investigation to verify whether this Ukrainian veteran, who fought with the Nazis, had not committed crimes in Poland, with a view to his possible extradition, but the Canadian Minister of Justice has not yet received such a request.


And with AFP)

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  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Ukraine
  • Justin Trudeau
  • Volodymyr Zelensky