Canada’s House speaker has stepped down after inviting a Nazi veteran to Parliament

The Speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, Anthony Rota, has resigned after inviting a World War II Nazi veteran to Parliament for a speech by the Ukrainian President.

Driving the news: Rota had invited 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, a war veteran who served in the First Ukrainian Division, also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, to a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
* After the speech, Canadian lawmakers unknowingly gave Hunka a standing ovation, causing public backlash once Hunka’s association with the Nazi-led division was exposed.
* Rota resigned on Tuesday, acknowledging his error and accepting full responsibility for the incident.

Fallout: The incident has caused significant controversy and upset, particularly amongst the Jewish community in Canada and globally, as well as among Nazi survivors in countries like Poland.
* House government leader Karina Gould said Rota did the “honorable thing” by resigning, while Health Minister Mark Holland deemed the event “incredibly embarrassing.”
* Gould stressed that Rota’s failure to inform the government about Hunka’s attendance and lack of diligence in background checks led to a loss of confidence in him among lawmakers.
* The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies said the incident left a “stain” on Canada’s legislature and handed a propaganda win to Russia.

Reactions: Critics include both parties within the Canadian government and international observers.
* Russian officials have deemed the incident “outrageous,” allowing Putin to spin the event as a justification for his actions in Ukraine.
* Opposition Conservatives have blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the incident, stating it happened under Trudeau’s watch.
* Political science professor Daniel Béland noted that the speaker is an officer of Parliament and does not participate in partisan caucus meetings, suggesting Trudeau cannot be held directly responsible.

View original article on NPR

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