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Canada Govt Urges House Speaker To Resign For Inviting And Honouring Nazi Fighter, Critics Say He's Taking Fall For PM Trudeau

Canada Govt Urges House Speaker To Resign For Inviting And Honouring Nazi Fighter, Critics Say He's Taking Fall For PM Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the rest of the MPs in the Parliament's House of Commons to honour and give a standing ovation to a Nazi fighter from the World War II. The episode has caused worldwide embarrassment for Trudeau.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clapping as the Parliament honours a Nazi veteran of the World War II
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clapping as the Parliament honours a Nazi veteran of the World War II Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press via AP

The Canadian government has joined the growing calls for the resignation of the House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota for inviting and honouring a Nazi fighter of World War II with a standing ovation in the Canadian Parliament. 

Last week, the Canadian government was left red-faced in front of the entire world when it emerged that the person they clapped and cheered for in the House of Commons in the presence of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a member of a Nazi battalion that fought the Allied Forces in the World War II. 

The Conservative Party in the Opposition has called for Rota's resignation and now Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ministers and fellow party leaders have also joined the calls. The people have, however, said that the resignation of Rota would be like taking the fall for Trudeau. 

It has been pointed out that the Speaker and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) are the only institutions involved in inviting and vetting such guests to the Parliament and therefore responsibility for the blunder also lies with Trudeau, who is already embroiled in a diplomatic stand-off with India and dealing with low ratings. Recently, he was rated as the worst Prime Minister of Canada in over five decades in a poll, which is yet another sign of the growing crises Trudeau faces. 

Trudeau has further been criticised for trying to shed any responsibility for the blunder that led to worldwide criticism and mockery. In a reaction caught on video, he blamed "Russian propaganda and Russian disinformation" over the incident. 

Canadian Opposition leader and Conservative Party's PM candidate Pierre Poilievre has said that Trudeau and his Liberal Party's Speaker brought shame to Canada. While he called for the Speaker to resign, he said the blame also rests with Trudeau, who was enthusiastically clapping for the Nazi fighter in the House besides Zelenskyy. 

"The Liberal Speaker will have to resign. But that does not excuse Justin Trudeau’s failure to have his massive diplomatic and intelligence apparatus vet and prevent honouring a Nazi," said Poilievre in a tweet. 

In a separate tweet, Poilievre pointed out that Trudeau had personally met Hunka and his "personal protocol office is responsible for arranging and vetting all guests and programming for state visits" and therefore the ultimate blame for the blunder rests on Trudeau and he should not pass on the blame on the Speaker alone. 

Poilievre said, "This is an appalling error in judgement on the part of Justin Trudeau, whose personal protocol office is responsible for arranging and vetting all guests and programming for state visits of this kind. No parliamentarians (other than Justin Trudeau) had the opportunity to vet this individual’s past before he was introduced and honoured on the floor of the House of Commons. Without warning or context, it was impossible for any parliamentarian in the room (other than Mr. Trudeau) to know of this dark past. Mr. Trudeau must personally apologize and avoid passing the blame to others as he always does."

After two Opposition parties on Monday called for Rota to resign, Government House Leader Karina Gould on Tuesday said Tuesday that she believes lawmakers have lost confidence in Rota, according to The Associated Press (AP), which added that Gould added Rota invited and recognised the Nazi veteran, identified as 98-year-old Yaroslav Hunka, without informing the government or the delegation from Ukraine. 

Foreign Minister Melanie Joly also urged him to resign, as per AP.

"It is completely unacceptable. It was an embarrassment to the House and Canadians, and I think the speaker should listen to members and step down," said Jody, as per AP.

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies also called for Rota to resign as the Speaker. 

The Center said, "While we acknowledge his apology, Speaker Rota's decision to invite a former member of the Waffen-SS, notorious for its involvement in Holocaust atrocities, to Canada's Parliament has left a stain on our country's venerable legislature with profound implications both in Canada and globally...This incident has compromised all 338 Members of Parliament and has also handed a propaganda victory to Russia, distracting from what was a momentously significant display of unity between Canada and Ukraine. It has also caused great pain to Canada's Jewish community, Holocaust survivors, veterans and other victims of the Nazi regime."

In his apology on Sunday, Rota said he alone was responsible for inviting and recognizing Hunka, who is from the district that Rota represents, reported AP. 

"The speaker's office said Monday it was Rota's son who contacted Hunka's local office to see if it was possible if he could attend Zelenskyy's speech," reported AP.

The MPs across the parties have said that they were not aware of the Nazi affiliation of Hunka and were shocked to learn the truth. The incident, however, has dented the image of Canadian Parliament and the Trudeau government across the world and has also bolstered the Russian agenda, which is expected to use the incident in its ongoing disinformation campaign. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian regime have termed Ukrainians as Nazis and have termed their invasion of Ukraine as part of the 'Denazification' of Ukraine. 

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