Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota, who has held the position of Speaker of the House of Commons during the 43rd and 44th Parliaments, has stepped down from the position effective at the end of the day Wednesday, September 27.
Rota resigned after it was revealed that a resident of his constituency, who Rota had invited to attend when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed Parliament Friday, September 22, had previously served in a Nazi unit during World War II, along with other military duties, also fighting for Ukraine in later years. Rota had introduced the 98-year-old resident in Parliament as a former Ukrainian soldier and a war hero. The Members of Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Zelenskyy all applauded the former soldier.
It was later learned that the Nipissing-Timiskaming constituent had also served during World War II with a Nazi unit.
After the information came to light publicly, Rota apologized before the House of Commons, and on Tuesday announced his resignation from the position of Speaker.
Rota's Communications Officer Matthew Sookram stated in an email that "he is staying on as the MP."
Rota is a member of the governing Liberal Party and was elected to the Speaker post through a vote of all Members of Parliament. He first became Speaker of the House of Commons on December 5, 2019, and has maintained that position to this time, having been elected to the office twice by his fellow MPs.
On Tuesday, September 26, Rota issued a prepared statement from the Speaker's Office.
"It is with a heavy heart that I rise in the House today to inform Members of my resignation as Speaker of the House of Commons.
"It has been my greatest honour as a parliamentarian to have been elected by you, my peers, to serve as the Speaker of the House of Commons in the 43rd and 44th Parliaments.
"I have acted as a humble servant of this House, carrying out the important responsibilities of this position to the very best of my abilities.
"I want to thank you, colleagues, for your support and collegiality during my tenure in the Chair. The work of the House is above any one of us; therefore I must step down as your Speaker.
"I reiterate my profound regret for my error in recognizing an individual in the House during the joint address to Parliament by President Zelenskyy.
"That public recognition has caused pain to individuals and communities, including the Jewish community in Canada and around the world, as well as to survivors of Nazi atrocities in Poland and other nations. I am deeply sorry.
"I accept full responsibility for my actions.
"My resignation will take effect at the end of the sitting day … Wednesday, September 27, to allow for the election of a new Speaker. Until that time, the deputy speakers will chair House proceedings."
Darlene Wroe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker