Fire Canada’s House Speaker

Waffen-SS Volunteer Yaroslav Hunka Honoured in Canada's Parliament. Screenshot of news coverage.

How is it possible that the Speaker of Canada’s House of Commons, Anthony Rota, could invite a member of the 14th Waffen-SS Grenadier Division (known as the Galicia Division), a Nazi unit comprised of Ukrainian volunteers, to attend Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to Parliament?

What is worse—what is a complete and total outrage—is the fact that the Speaker, Mr. Rota, valorized Yaroslav Hunka, 98 years old, as “a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service.” Members of our Parliament, then, gave this elderly Ukrainian Nazi soldier a standing ovation.

May 1943. Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler (in the foreground) in the company of German officers in front of the unit of the 14th Grenadier Division of the Waffen SS “Galizien.” Wikipedia, public domain.

It is not up to Jews or Jewish organizations to condemn this outrage, but up to every Canadian with WWII Veterans in their ancestry. I can only imagine what my grandparents and great uncles would have to say about this disgusting embarrassment that is now making international news.

Bruce Strachan, my grandmother’s brother, one of 1.1 million Canadians who fought for six years to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany and its collaborators. These are the people who should be called Canadian heroes and honoured in the House of Commons for their service.

What kind of country are we living in when the Speaker of the House of Commons is so ignorant about the history of the last great war that he could actually celebrate the service of a Nazi volunteer? Anthony Rota should not resign; he should be fired from the role of House Speaker immediately and his behavior and his ignorance should be publicly sanctioned and censured on the very floor of the House of Commons.

Hall of the House of Commons, Wikipedia, CC3.0

Canadians, and others, might also wonder how exactly Yaroslav Hunka has managed to live comfortably in Canada given his membership in the Heinrich Himmler commanded Waffen SS, a “criminal organization” according to the Nuremburg Trials.

This spectacle has truly sullied our House of Parliament and made every single Member of the House look ridiculous. It has also provided fodder for those, including many Russians, who believe that Canada and NATO are funding, training, and arming a neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine. While this Russian propaganda is inaccurate, it is also not entirely without some factual basis. Ukraine does have a Nazi-problem, both past and present, and it is clearly apparent in its military.

At this point in time, I think many Canadians would be more comfortable if Canada was in the position of helping to mediate a negotiated settlement to the Russian war on Ukraine, as soon as possible, instead of continuing to fund a fruitless and failed counter-offensive and leading the charge against Russia. Our current contribution to Ukraine since January 2022 is over $2,000,000,000 according to Germany’s Kiel Institute for the World Economy (the USA is approaching 50 billion dollars). Canada is not a major power, and our considerable diplomatic resources are better spent on soft power moves than on sword rattling, which can be left to the Americans. Our meagre military and financial resources should be spent on our own defence unpreparedness and Canada’s mounting domestic problems.

One strange and glaring reality in Canada today, that no one seems to be willing to broach in public, the elephant-in-the-room, as it were, is the massive conflict-of-interest on the part of Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland. This conflict is not specifically related to the fact that her Ukrainian grandfather on her mother’s side was a Nazi collaborator but to her lifelong ethnic identification with Ukraine and its independence from the former Soviet Union. Another version of this same problem that has recently come to light is the same kind of conflict-of-interest on the part of the Sikh leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, in relation to the current diplomatic debacle with India, a nation of over 1.4 billion people and the West’s hoped-for economic partner to provide a counterbalance to China. Neither one of these political figures can be expected to hold a neutral or dispassionate view of the situation, respectively, which is what is best for Canada’s interests, and which might actually assist with bringing a resolution to these conflicts. (There is no point in even mentioning Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre as he blames Prime Minister Trudeau for Hunka’s visit to Parliament and for everything else on planet earth.)

Screenshot of news coverage, September 25, 2023

Ukrainian interests, Russian interests, Sikh interests, and Indian interests are not Canada’s interests, and Canadian politicians should be very clear about this. If they cannot advocate for Canadians and their best interests (try focusing attention and finances on our broken health care system, the housing crisis and the pressure of increased immigration, and the cultural mélange of drug addiction, crime, abuse, and homelessness) they have no business running for public office. Given the current and future hyphenated nature of Canadian identity, conflicts of interest—especially in foreign and economic affairs—are a significant challenge our country and its elected officials must face honestly and address directly. Best to start this national conversation now.

I guess the time has come for all Canadian MPs and House Speakers to take a History 101 course. They should probably also be required to take a course on understanding conflicts of interest. And maybe the government should re-insert the historical images and national references they removed from Canada’s new passport. And the Peel District School Board, west of Toronto, should rebuild its empty library after having confiscated all books published prior to 2008. And so on and so on and so on . . .

About the Author
Dr. Chatterley is a Canadian historian of Modern Europe trained at the University of Chicago. She is Editor-in-Chief of Antisemitism Studies and Founding Director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism (CISA). An award-winning writer, she specializes in the study of European history, with particular emphasis on the history of antisemitism and the dynamic relationship between Jews and non-Jews in Western history.
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