Former Liberal Speaker to testify on 'Canadian hero' tribute to Nazi collaborator

Former Liberal Speaker Anthony Rota has been called to testify before a Commons committee on his tribute to a volunteer Nazi. The all-party House affairs committee secretly voted Monday to compel testimony from Rota on the 'international embarrassment.'

Former Liberal Speaker to testify on 'Canadian hero' tribute to Nazi collaborator
Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP, File and The Canadian Press / Justin Tang
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Former Liberal Speaker Anthony Rota has been called to testify before a Commons committee on his tribute to a volunteer Nazi.

Rota last September 26 became the first Commons Speaker in 66 years to resign under threat of censure. He praised Yaroslav Hunka four days prior, an SS Waffen member unbeknownst to him at the time.

“We have here in the chamber a Ukrainian-Canadian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today even at his age of 98,” Rota told the Commons, referring to Hunka.

“He is a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service. Thank you,” added then-Speaker Rota.

All House parties twice gave the Ukrainian national a standing ovation for fighting against the Russians in WWII.

However, media reports later uncovered Hunka had served the 14 Waffen SS Grenadier Division from 1943 through 1945, a voluntary Nazi paramilitary unit. He later spent time interned as a prisoner of war before immigrating to Canada.

Rota later apologized to Parliament for the embarrassment he caused, acknowledging it “may not be good enough” to make up for the incident.

“My intention was to show that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is not a new one, that Ukrainians have unfortunately been subject to foreign aggression for far too long,” he said. “I am deeply sorry that I have offended many with my gestures and remarks.”

Hunka, a Ukrainian nationalist by his own admission, penned in commentary to Combatant News that he “gladly welcomed” the German soldiers in WWII. “I was just 16 years old and the next two years were the happiest years of my life,” he wrote.

“None of us asked what our reward would be, what our provision would be or even what our tomorrow would be,” said the Nazi collaborator. “We felt our duty to our native land.” 

He provided no details of his war record, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

The all-party House affairs committee secretly voted Monday to compel testimony from Rota on “the international embarrassment” he caused during a visit from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his delegation.

This is a developing story.

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