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Canada's Parliament Speaker resigns over inviting Waffen-SS Galicia veteran

Tuesday, 26 September 2023, 21:25
Canada's Parliament Speaker resigns over inviting Waffen-SS Galicia veteran
photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS

Anthony Rota, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the lower house of the Parliament of Canada, announced his resignation on Tuesday amid the scandal involving the invitation of 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech last week.

Source: European Pravda with reference to Rota at the Parliament session

Details: In a brief statement, he thanked the parliamentarians for their trust during his election as the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons in the previous and current convocations.

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Quote: "It is with a heavy heart that I rise to inform members of my resignation as Speaker of the House of Commons," Rota said, without specifying the reasons for his decision.

The speaker was called on to resign by colleagues and members of the government after it turned out that he had invited 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka to Parliament last week during Zelenskyy's visit to Canada. Rota introduced 98-year-old Hunka as a World War II veteran who had fought against the Russians. 

Later, journalists found out that Hunka served in the 14th Grenadier Division of the Waffen-SS, the unit that consisted mainly of ethnic Ukrainians but served under the Nazi command.

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Reference: The Waffen-SS Galicia Division was formed in 1943 by German troops who recruited Ukrainians to fight against the Red Army.  The Nuremberg trials and the so-called Deschênes Commission, set up in Canada in the 1980s, did not confirm the involvement of the division's members in war crimes. Nevertheless, the division has been blamed for punitive Wehrmacht operations against Poles and Jews. 

Details: Hunka's invitation to the Canadian Parliament caused an outrage, and Canadian and Polish Jewish organisations have demanded an explanation. The speaker of Canada’s House of Commons later apologised for what happened but refused to resign. 

The Office of the Prime Minister of Canada told local media that neither Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nor the Ukrainian side had been aware that a former member of the SS Galicia Division had been invited, and they condemned the action wholeheartedly. 

Reminder: In 2021, Germany protested over a march in the centre of Kyiv timed to the anniversary of the creation of the SS Galicia Division.

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