Parliament rose Friday to salute a former member of the SS Waffen — a Nazi fighting unit — and only the Speaker of the House took responsibility for Canada becoming an international laughingstock.
"On Friday, September 22, in my remarks following the address of the President of Ukraine, I recognized an individual in the gallery," said Speaker Anthony Rota.
"I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to do so."
All House parties, Senate groups and foreign dignitaries gave Yaroslav Hunka, 98, a standing ovation for his efforts against the Russians then and now.
"He's a Ukrainian hero — a Canadian hero — and we thank him for all his service," claimed Rota at the time.
He recognized Hunka for his supposed service in the 'First Division' of the Ukrainian National Army before immigrating to Canada.
But military affairs reporter, David Pugliese, said no such 'First Division' existed during WWII.
As reported by esprit de corps, Adolf Hitler’s 14th Waffen SS Division Galicia concealed their SS connection in the final days of WWII by renaming themselves the First Division Ukrainian National Army.
As many as 2,000 Waffen SS soldiers of Ukrainian heritage sought refuge in Canada under false pretense to avoid prosecution.
Pugliese said these soldiers had voluntarily served the Nazi war machine and "eagerly signed up" to join the SS Waffen and commit alleged war crimes.
They fought the Polish Home Army in WWII, crushed the Slovak National Uprising and hunted down anti-Nazi partisans in Slovenia.
"I wish to make clear that no one, including fellow parliamentarians and the Ukraine delegation, was aware of my intention or of my remarks before I delivered them," claimed Rota in a statement issued Sunday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed Hunka as an honoured guest during Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to Canada.
However, Rota claimed the fault for inviting Hunka "was entirely my own," given he is a resident from the Speaker’s riding.
"I accept full responsibility for my actions," he added, extending his "deepest apologies" to Canada’s Jewish communities for the grave misstep.
NDP House leader Peter Julian recommended to the Commons Monday that Rota resign as Speaker for inviting a Nazi to Parliament.
"He alone has the privilege of recognizing visitors in the gallery. […] Although we appreciate the apology made by the Speaker, we regretfully and sadly say that that’s not enough," he said.
"I believe a sacred trust has been broken. It’s for that reason […] that I don’t believe you can continue in this role."
Liberal House leader Karina Gould, who also issued a comment on the incident, took a photo with Hunka while exiting the chamber on Friday.
She claimed not to have known his identity having relied on information provided solely by the Speaker.
"The Speaker has now made it clear that he was responsible for inviting this individual to the House. The government played no role," she claimed.
"The PM did not meet him. I did not know he would be there. I am deeply troubled that this happened."
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner called out the federal government for the lack of oversight, stating the Speaker "shouldn’t be the sole scapegoat for this."
"It's impossible the PMO didn't know about and approve this person's invitation and honour," she said.
"Like all MPs, I had no further information than the Speaker provided. Exiting the Chamber I walked by the individual and took a photo," replied Gould.
"As a descendant of Jewish Holocaust survivors I would ask all parliamentarians to stop politicizing an issue troubling to many, myself included."