MPs have lost confidence in Speaker amid controversy over Nazi veteran invite: Gould

Ottawa

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. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2023. 

Banner image via The Canadian Press

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