| 14 July 2024, Sunday |

Canada foreign minister: Parliament speaker should quit after praising Nazi

Melanie Joly, Canada’s Foreign Minister, said on Tuesday that the speaker of the House of Commons’ lower chamber should retire after openly praising a former Nazi soldier in Parliament.

Anthony Rota, the speaker, apologized before the House on Monday but has rejected mounting calls to resign. Rota referred to the soldier as a military hero during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last Friday.

But it soon emerged that ex-soldier Yaroslav Hunka, 98, who received two standing ovations from lawmakers, had served in one of Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS units during World War Two. Russia called the incident outrageous.

“It was an embarrassment to the House and to Canadians and I think the speaker should listen to members of the House and step down,” Joly told reporters ahead of a cabinet meeting. She was the first member of the Liberal cabinet to demand Rota quit.

Senior officials from the four major political parties in the House are due to meet later on Tuesday to discuss the matter. If Rota refuses to quit, legislators can propose a formal motion of no confidence.

“It is a good thing that speaker Rota apologized personally and I am sure he is reflecting now on how to ensure the dignity of the House going forward,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters ahead of a cabinet meeting.

The furor helped tarnish the visit by Zelenskyy, who thanked Canada for the billions of dollars in aid and weapons it has provided since Russia invaded in February 2022.

The episode plays into the narrative promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he sent his army into Ukraine last year to “demilitarize and denazify” the country, a charge Kyiv and Western allies say is baseless.

  • alarabiya