Anthony Rota, Nipissing-Timiskaming's MP and the Speaker of the House, continues to apologize for a decision that has caused significant controversy in the House of Commons.
On Friday, Rota, stirred international attention from the House when he praised a 98-year-old Ukrainian veteran Yaroslav Hunka who reports say fought for a Nazi unit during the Second World War.
During Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to Ottawa on Friday, MPs including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Rota honoured Yaroslav Hunka in the House of Commons.
Rota released a statement on Sunday evening and followed up with another apology in person in the House of Commons on Monday morning.
"My intention was to show that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is not a new one; that Ukrainians have unfortunately been subject to foreign aggression for far too long and that this must end. I have subsequently become aware of more information which causes me to regret my decision to recognize this individual. I wish to apologize to the House. I am deeply sorry that I have offended many with my gesture and remarks," Rota stated.
"I would also like to add that this initiative was entirely my own, the individual in question being from my riding and having been brought to my attention. No one — not even anyone among you, fellow parliamentarians, or from the Ukrainian delegation was privy to my intention or my remarks prior to their delivery."
After the remarks, Government House Leader Karina Gould asked that the recognition be stricken from the Parliament's record.
"This unfortunate situation has been deeply embarrassing for Canada's Parliament," Gould said.
Hunka was invited to sit in the gallery of the House by Rota, who introduced him as a war hero who fought for the First Ukrainian Division. However, that Ukrainian division was also known as the Waffen-SS Galicia Division, a voluntary unit that was under the command of the Nazis.
"We have in the chamber today a Ukrainian war veteran from the Second World War who fought for Ukrainian independence against the Russians and continues to support the troops today even at his age of 98," Rota announced Friday to a round of applause.
"His name is Yaroslav Hunka but I am very proud to say he is from North Bay and from my riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming. He is a Ukrainian hero, a Canadian hero, and we thank him for all his service," Rota continued.
Rota made Monday's statement from the House of Commons amid multiple calls for his resignation.
NDP House leader Peter Julian is calling on Speaker of the House Anthony Rota to step down. Julian told the House that Rota's was an "unforgivable" error that broke a "sacred trust," and that the Speaker should step aside for the good of the institution.
Conservative House leader Andrew Scheer is still placing the blame on the Prime Minister's Office, saying the government had a responsibility to vet attendees of such a high-profile event for security reasons.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies issued a statement Sunday saying the division associated with Hunka "was responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilians with a level of brutality and malice that is unimaginable.
"An apology is owed to every Holocaust survivor and veteran of the Second World War who fought the Nazis, and an explanation must be provided as to how this individual entered the hallowed halls of Canadian Parliament and received recognition from the Speaker of the House and a standing ovation."
Rota has also come under fire locally, as many are baffled by the oversight.
"Mr. Rota has demonstrated how insensitive a politician can be to many Canadian citizens and those in other parts of the world who are survivors or families of Holocaust survivors," wrote Susan Neil, a former North Bay resident who penned a Letter to the Editor on the subject published Monday.
"He has demonstrated his personal ignorance and lack of knowledge regarding one of the worst crimes in the last century," Neil stated.
With Files from the Canadian Press