Government House leader Karina Gould called for unanimous consent in the House of Commons on Monday to remove from official records and multimedia recordings the recognition Speaker Anthony Rota bestowed upon Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old man described as a “Ukrainian hero” and a “Canadian hero.”
The move follows revelations that Hunka had served in the First Ukrainian Division, also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, during World War II, a unit under Nazi command.
Despite everyone agreeing that the incident was deeply embarrassing, the Conservative Party argued against erasing the recognition from the official record, asserting that history should not be forgotten to avoid repeating shameful moments.
Conservative MP Marty Morantz contended that removing the Speaker’s words from Hansard would only serve to attempt to erase the event and clean the record, stating, “It would be absolutely wrong to strike what was said from the record. It goes without saying that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. What happened on Friday was shameful, and brought embarrassment to this Chamber.”
“Deleting the text of the Speaker’s words from Hansard would have only one purpose: to try and forget what happened, to wash the record clean,” Morantz added.
Rota announced his resignation on Tuesday in response to mounting pressure. Legislators from all major parties had called for the speaker to step down.
“This House is above any of us. Therefore, I must step down as your speaker,” Rota said. “That public recognition has caused pain to individuals and communities, including the Jewish community in Canada and around the world, in addition to survivors of Nazi atrocities in Poland, among other nations.”
Rota’s resignation will be effective at the end of the day on Wednesday.
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