OTTAWA – POLITICS – House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota has come under fire from opposition parties, who are demanding his resignation following his controversial decision to honour a Ukrainian individual with a troubling past during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Rota took to the House of Commons to issue an apology for his lapse in judgment. However, both the NDP and Bloc Québécois have expressed their loss of trust in the Speaker, indicating that they no longer have confidence in his ability to fulfill his role impartially. In contrast, the Conservative Party has shifted the blame towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, contending that the government bears ultimate responsibility for vetting visitors to the Commons.
The incident in question revolved around Rota’s invitation to 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, hailing from Rota’s constituency of North Bay, Ontario, to attend Parliament during President Zelensky’s visit. Rota had commended Hunka as a hero for his role in fighting for Ukraine’s independence against Russian forces during the Second World War.
However, this decision drew sharp criticism from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies. In a statement over the weekend, they pointed out that Hunka had a documented history of serving in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a Nazi military unit associated with severe “crimes against humanity.”