Video: Canada's prime minister announces emergency powers to end protests/Photo: Reuters
Canadian House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rutte resigned on Tuesday after praising Yaroslav Honka, a 98-year-old Ukrainian who served in the SS military wing during World War II. Honka served in a Nazi division composed of Ukrainian fighters, who assisted in the war against the Soviet Union, which ruled Ukraine during the war.
The incident occurred last week during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit, when Rutte pointed to Honka and said he was "a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we all thank him for his services," while those in attendance, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, applauded him. Yaroslav Honke's praise was condemned by Jewish organizations and used by the Kremlin to promote the narrative that Russia is fighting "Nazis" in Ukraine.
This morning, Rutte apologized for the incident, saying he was unaware of his past. In a statement, Rutte said: "After what I said about Honka, I have learned more information that makes me regret my decision to do so." "No one, including members of parliament and the delegation from Ukraine, was aware of my intentions or words before I carried them," he said. It was completely my initiative – this is a person from my district who brought this to my attention."
Canadian House of Commons Applause/Social Media Documentation under Section 27A of the Copyright Act
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was with Zelensky in parliament at the time. Trudeau said Honka's invitation was "very embarrassing" but he did not call for Rutte to resign. "It's very upsetting that this has happened. The chairman acknowledged his mistake and apologized," Trudeau said. "But it's something that is very embarrassing to the Parliament of Canada and therefore to all Canadians."
Following the incident, opposition members called on the speaker of parliament to resign, including Democratic MP Peter Julian, who called it an "unforgivable mistake". "Unfortunately, I believe that sacred trust has been broken." The Canadian Jewish group CIJA said it was "deeply concerned" that a former member of the Nazi division who participated in the murder of Jews was being applauded, stressing that this must never happen again, while acknowledging the apology.
Trudeau's office said the decision to invite Honka to parliament was made by the speaker's office, and it denied there had been a meeting between Honka and the prime minister. Trudeau warned today that Russia could use the incident to promote its false narrative about Ukraine.
- More on the subject: