Last Friday, Volodymyr Zelensky paid an official visit to Canada. During a ceremony at the gathering, participants unknowingly applauded a former Nazi. The president of the chamber announced his resignation.
It’s a tribute that seriously embarrasses Canada. Last Friday, Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Ottawa on an official visit. Honors were paid to veteran Jaroslaw Hunka during a ceremony in the House of Commons. The 98-year-old was portrayed as a “Ukrainian hero, Canadian hero.” Problem: He is a former Nazi, former member of the Waffen-SS.
Not surprisingly, this ovation caused an uproar. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately criticized the “unacceptable” and “embarrassing” honor. Parties from all sides have called for the resignation of Anthony Rota, the Speaker of the House of Commons.
At the end of a weekend full of tensions, the man announced on Tuesday his resignation, effective this Wednesday:
“The work of this house is above each of us. That’s why I have to step down from my role as speaker. “I once again deeply regret the mistake I made when paying tribute to a person in the Chamber (…) I accept I have full responsibility for my actions,” he explained.
Resignation is not enough to end the diplomatic incident. Poland’s education minister shared a message on Twitter suggesting that he was preparing to extradite Jaroslaw Hunka.
“After the scandalous events that took place in the Canadian Parliament in honor of a member of the criminal Nazi formation SS Galicia, I have taken steps towards the possible extradition of this man to Poland, also in the presence of President Zelensky,” said Minister Przemysław Czarnek .
On the Canadian government’s “international transfer of criminals” page, launched in 2020, Poland is not listed among the countries with a bilateral agreement with Canada.
One question remains. How could this ovation come about? Justin Trudeau’s office says it was unaware of the list of guests at the ceremony, while Parliament was unaware of the former Nazi’s past.
It is also possible that the veteran’s lack of prosecution has obscured the issue. Canada does not have the same cultural connection to World War II as Europeans, and a legal nuance may have led to the former Waffen-SS not being convicted.
By Marie Gentric with Tom Kerkour