Canada to pick new House speaker after fiasco involving former Nazi soldier
OTTAWA — Canada’s House of Commons on Tuesday will vote to select a new speaker after the previous one quit following an uproar for unknowingly inviting a former Nazi soldier to a special parliamentary session in honor of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Former speaker Anthony Rota, a member of the governing Liberal party, resigned last week. He took full responsibility for inviting Yaroslav Hunka, 98, a Polish-born Ukrainian who served in one of Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS units during World War Two, to the House when Zelenskiy spoke on Sept. 22.
Without knowing Hunka’s full background, Rota publicly recognized him as a veteran soldier for Ukraine and a hero who had emigrated to Canada, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to formally apologize for the gaffe last week.
The voting will kick off at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT), when each of the at least eight candidates will be allowed to make a brief speech. The members of the 338-seat House will then vote by secret ballot, ranking the candidates in order of preference.
The House speaker is meant to be an impartial arbitrator of parliamentary procedure, seeking to maintain order and decorum during debates. The speaker votes only to break a tie, and plays a ceremonial role as an institutional representative of parliament.
Among the candidates are Liberal Greg Fergus, who if elected would be the first person of color to become speaker. Liberal Sean Casey would be the first speaker from Prince Edward Island.
While the Liberals have the most seats, they do not hold an outright majority, so Conservative Chris d’Entremont, who has been serving as deputy minister, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May could also be elected.
The role of speaker comes with a salary boost of almost C$93,000 ($68,000) per year, added to the C$194,600 base salary for a lawmaker, and an official country estate in Quebec’s Gatineau Hills.