The Speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, Anthony Rota, is facing calls to step down after inviting a Ukrainian Nazi veteran to parliament and honoring him. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Arkadiusz Mularczyk has criticized Rota’s actions and stated that he should face “personal consequences” for his lack of knowledge of history and diligence.
The controversy arose when the Canadian parliament celebrated Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian-Canadian who fought for the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, a volunteer unit formed by Nazi Germany from western Ukrainians during World War II. The commemoration occurred while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky were delivering speeches in the House of Commons.
Rota initially praised Hunka as a “Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero” who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians. However, due to intense backlash at home and abroad, Rota later apologized for inviting the Nazi veteran.
In an interview with the PAP news agency, Mularczyk described the situation as a “great embarrassment” for Rota, citing his lack of insight, knowledge of history, and diligence. Mularczyk emphasized that the Waffen SS committed numerous war crimes, particularly against Poles and Jews, during World War II. He argued that the failure to unequivocally condemn individuals like Hunka while glorifying them was disgraceful.
Mularczyk called for Rota to face personal consequences for his actions, including resigning from his position as Speaker of the House. He also highlighted the unresolved issues in the history of Ukraine, criticizing the country’s historical policy of failing to confront its criminal past and sometimes even glorifying it.
Although Poland has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, the relationship between the two nations remains strained due to Ukraine’s continued veneration of Ukrainian nationalists who collaborated with the Nazi regime. Warsaw has repeatedly demanded that Ukrainian President Zelensky apologize for the 1943 Volyn Massacre, considered a genocide, committed by Ukrainian nationalists. However, Ukraine has resisted these demands for contrition.
It is clear that the controversy surrounding the honoring of a Ukrainian Nazi veteran in the Canadian parliament has raised concerns about historical revisionism and the glorification of individuals with a criminal past. The call for Rota to face personal consequences reflects the need for accountability and a condemnation of actions that perpetuate a distorted view of history. As this incident continues to draw international attention, it serves as a reminder of the importance of accurately remembering and acknowledging the atrocities committed during World War II.