The speaker of Canada’s parliament has resigned after inviting a Ukrainian Nazi veteran to attend a special session of parliament, and then calling the man a “hero” amid two standing ovations.
Anthony Rota stepped down as speaker on Tuesday after meeting with party leaders in Ottawa amid growing cross-party calls for his resignation.
“This house is above any of us,” “I must step down as your speaker,” he told lawmakers. “I reiterate my profound regret.”
Earlier in the day, Canada’s foreign minister, Mélanie Joly, called the situation “deeply unacceptable” and an “embarrassment”. The government house leader said Rota should do the “honourable thing” and step down. The Conservative leader, Pierre Poilievre, also criticized Justin Trudeau for the fiasco, saying the prime minister had “brought shame on Canada” after the government’s failure to have its “massive diplomatic and intelligence apparatus vet and prevent honouring a Nazi”.
Yaroslav Hunka, 98, got a standing ovation after Mr Rota called him a “hero” during a Friday visit by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky.
Mr Rota has said he did not know of Mr Hunka’s Nazi ties and made a mistake in inviting him to attend the event.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday it was “extremely upsetting that this happened”.
“This is something that is deeply embarrassing to the parliament of Canada and by extension to all Canadians.” he told reporters.