Sep 26, 2023
By Jane Brown
It appears House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota has no choice but to step down after inviting a Ukrainian veteran who served with the Nazis to be celebrated in Parliament on Friday.
There are calls for Rota’s resignation now from within his own party.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is urging Rota to resign and Government House Leader Karina Gould says she believes MPs have lost confidence in Rota, who is scheduled to speak with all party leaders at noon on Tuesday.
Rota insists the decision to invite Hunka, who lives in Rota’s riding of Nipissing–Timiskaming, was entirely his own.
And there is another new development.
Poland’s education minister says he has “taken steps” to effect the extradition of Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian Canadian, to Poland after it emerged that the veteran served in the Nazi SS Galizien formation during the Second World War.
On Friday, Hunka was invited to sit in the parliamentary gallery by Speaker Anthony Rota for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to Parliament. Rota introduced Hunka as a “Ukrainian hero” and a “Canadian hero,” prompting a standing ovation in the House of Commons.
Over the weekend, it emerged that Hunka was part of the First Ukrainian Division, 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.
“In view of the scandalous events in the Canadian Parliament, which involved honouring, in the presence of President Zelenskyy, a member of the criminal Nazi SS Galizien formation, I have taken steps towards the possible extradition of this man to Poland,” Przemysław Czarnek said in a social media post Tuesday.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Arif Virani told reporters Tuesday that he can’t comment on Czarnek’s move because no extradition request has come across his desk and no one from the Polish government has reached out to him.