OTTAWA - Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Tuesday said the speaker of the House of Commons lower chamber should resign after he publicly praised a former Nazi soldier in Parliament.

The speaker, Anthony Rota, apologized in the House on Monday but has resisted growing calls to quit. Last Friday, during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Rota called the veteran a war hero.

But it soon emerged that ex-soldier Yaroslav Hunka, 98, who received two standing ovations from lawmakers, had served in one of Adolf Hitler's Waffen SS units during World War Two. Russia called the incident outrageous.

"It was an embarrassment to the House and to Canadians and I think the speaker should listen to members of the House and step down," Joly told reporters ahead of a cabinet meeting. She was the first member of the Liberal cabinet to demand Rota quit.

Senior officials from the four major political parties in the House are due to meet later on Tuesday to discuss the matter. If Rota refuses to quit, legislators can propose a formal motion of no confidence.

"It is a good thing that speaker Rota apologised personally and I am sure he is reflecting now on how to ensure the dignity of the House going forward," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters ahead of a cabinet meeting.

The furor helped tarnish the visit by Zelenskiy, who thanked Canada for the billion of dollars in aid and weapons it has provided since Russia invaded in February 2022.

The episode plays into the narrative promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin that he sent his army into Ukraine last year to "demilitarise and denazify" the country, a charge Kyiv and Western allies say is baseless.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Daniel Wallis)