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House Speaker Anthony Rota resigns over honouring man who fought for Nazis

Speaker of House resigns

UPDATE 11:35 a.m.

House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota is resigning after he invited a man who fought for the Nazis to attend a speech that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered to Canada's Parliament last week.

The Liberal MP, who was first elected Speaker in December 2019, shared his decision ahead of question period in the House of Commons today, referring to his time in the role as "his greatest honour."

All sides had called for Rota to resign after he invited and recognized in the House a Ukraine military veteran now living in Canada who had served in a Nazi unit during the Second World War.

All members of Parliament stood and applauded 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, who lives in Rota's northern Ontario riding, without knowing the details of his past last Friday during the official visit by Zelenskyy.

Rota, who as Speaker was tasked with remaining impartial and maintaining order in the House of Commons, has been facing international scrutiny over the controversy.

Only two Speakers elected since Confederation have left partway through a parliamentary session, including one who died and another who was named governor general.


UPDATE: 7:37 a.m.

Government House leader Karina Gould says she believes MPs have lost confidence in Speaker Anthony Rota after he invited a man who fought for the Nazis to attend a speech by Ukraine's president.

Gould says she "can't see" how Rota will maintain the confidence of the Liberals, and it's time for the Speaker to do the "honourable thing."

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is also urging Rota to resign, following similar calls by the NDP and Bloc Québécois on Monday.

All members of Parliament stood and applauded 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka last Friday during the official visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, without knowing the details of his past.

Hunka is a veteran of the First Ukrainian Division, which was also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division or the SS 14th Waffen Division, a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is calling the mistake "deeply embarrassing," says he expects Rota is reflecting on how to maintain dignity in the Commons before he meets today with all party House leaders.

Rota rose in the House of Commons on Monday and apologized to parliamentarians for inviting Hunka, who lives in his northern Ontario riding, to the address and recognizing him as part of his own remarks.

He said he alone was responsible for the decision and that neither the Prime Minister's Office nor the Ukrainian delegation were aware.

On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly also asked Rota to step down from his role.

The Conservatives have said Trudeau is throwing Rota under the bus and that the prime minister should take responsibility for the invitation.

If Rota resigns, parliamentary procedure dictates that the House will cease its normal operations in order to elect a new Speaker at the earliest opportunity.


ORIGINAL: 7:04 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he expects that House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota is reflecting on how to maintain dignity in the chamber ahead of a meeting later today with all party House leaders.

Trudeau says it is good that Rota apologized to Parliament for inviting and recognizing in the House a Ukraine military veteran now living in Canada who had served in a Nazi unit during the Second World War.

All members of Parliament stood and applauded 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka last Friday during the official visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, without knowing the details of his past.

Trudeau says the mistake is "deeply embarrassing."

Rota is to meet with House leaders at noon today after both the NDP and Bloc Québécois called for him to resign on Monday.

The Conservatives say Trudeau is throwing Rota under the bus and that the prime minister should take responsibility for the invitation.



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