The speaker of the Canadian House of Commons resigned his post Tuesday, days after he praised a Ukrainian veteran who fought for a Nazi military unit during World War II.
In a speech on Friday, Anthony Rota lauded 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka as a Ukrainian and Canadian war hero who “fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russian aggressors then, and continues to support the troops today.”
But in the days since, human rights and Jewish organizations have condemned Rota’s recognition, saying Hunka served in a Nazi military unit known as the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had called the incident “deeply embarrassing.”
In parliament Tuesday afternoon, Rota said, “This house is above any of us, therefore I must step down as your speaker. I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the house during the joint address to parliament of President Zelensky. That public recognition has caused pain to individuals and communities, including the Jewish community in Canada and around the world, in addition to survivors of Nazi atrocities in Poland, among other nations. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
Rota had previously apologized to the House and Jewish communities in Canada and beyond, saying on Monday he was “deeply sorry” to have “offended many” and he had “become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to recognize this individual.”