The speaker of the House of Commons in Canada has resigned amid calls from Polish politicians to extradite a Nazi soldier who was honored by Parliament. Just days after receiving a standing ovation, Yaroslav Hunka may be facing extradition to Poland to be interrogated on whether he committed any atrocities during World War Two.
Despite being hailed as a Ukrainian and Canadian war hero by former House Speaker Anthony Rota, news of Hunka’s voluntary participation in the First Ukrainian Division, which was allied with the Nazis, inspired Poland’s Education Minister Przemysław Czarnek to take steps toward his possible extradition.
“In view of the scandalous events in the Canadian Parliament, which involved honoring, in the presence of President Zelenskyy, a member of the criminal Nazi SS formation, I have taken steps towards the possible extradition of this man to Poland,” Czarnek posted to X (formerly Twitter) today.
Speaking to CBC, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Arif Virany said no extradition requests have yet come across his desk.
As formerly reported by The Publica, Hunka was honored by Canadian politicians in the House of Commons on Friday during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the nation’s capital.
According to a blog post from 2011, Hunka admitted to joining the Nazi-run unit in 1943 voluntarily, where he proceeded to receive military training. Along with pledging allegiance to Ukraine, members of the Waffen-SS Galicia Division also expressed their devotion to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Reportedly, Hunka’s unit was responsible for the “mass murder of several hundred Polish civilians living in Ukraine, including children.” In addition, the Polish government confirmed that Hunka’s unit was responsible for murdering 200 Jews and political prisoners.
News of Hunka’s disturbing past collaborating with Nazis sparked outrage after former House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota controversially labeled him a war hero.
“I am very proud to say that he is from North Bay and from my riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming,” said Rota on Friday. “He is a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service.”
Although Rota’s introduction of Hunka was met with applause from the entire room, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on September 26, in response to demands from politicians and Jewish groups, Rota announced his resignation as House Speaker.
“This House is above any of us, therefore, I must step down as your Speaker,” said Rota just hours ago. “I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the House.”
Continuing, Rota acknowledged that the recognition he gave to a former Nazi soldier “caused pain to individuals and communities, including Jewish people, Poles and other survivors of Nazi atrocities.”
Rota’s resignation will be carried out on Wednesday, September 27, meaning Members of Parliament will need to quickly find a replacement so that official duties can continue without interruption.