Letters to the editor

By on June 1, 2001

Church’s concerns taken seriouslyDear editor,

I am writing about the article, “Church to be out of cash in 2001” by Solange De Santis in the April 4th, 2001, edition of your publication.

As the special representative for the Government of Canada on the matter of residential schools, I wish to convey that the government takes the concerns of the churches very seriously. We recognize the value they serve as important institutions in this country. I have assured church leaders that the government will work with them to try to find solutions that will assist the churches in meeting their legal liabilities without jeopardizing their long-term viability. Contrary to what was suggested in the article, the government and the four church organizations have, up to now, been involved in a dialogue and not negotiations.

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The article states that the leaders of the churches are seeking, “an agreement that would release (the churches) from the thousands of lawsuits brought by Native people”. My understanding of the general position of the churches is that there is a willingness to meet their legal and moral responsibilities. The government has apologized for its role in residential schools as has the Archbishop and Primate on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada. The objective now is to find a resolution that is fair to all parties, the victims of abuse, the churches involved and Canadians generally.

The article states, “In most cases, plaintiffs sued the federal government, which then countersued the churches”. This is incorrect. The fact is that in approximately 70 per cent of the cases, the plaintiffs have named one or more of the churches as a defendant directly, along with the Government of Canada. When there is a legal or factual basis for doing so, the government has taken steps to involve the churches as a whole in approximately 16 per cent of the total caseload to ensure that all evidence is presented to the courts for fair consideration.

In regards to the Anglican Church’s caseload, the church is named directly in 70 per cent of the cases and is added as a third party in 30 per cent of the cases when there is a factual need to do so. It was my understanding that these figures were acknowledged by Anglican officials and confirmed during my last meeting with church representatives.

Given the seriousness of the alleged abuses, it is in the best interest of all parties to ensure that proper validation of each case is achieved. I should point out that in the cases that have gone to court so far, it has been found that the Government of Canada and the church involved share joint responsibility.

I believe our dialogue has been productive and I am confident that we can continue to work together, however, we must be mindful that the volume and complexities of the caseload presents significant challenges. The Government of Canada will continue to work to find a resolution that will be fair to all concerned.

The Hon. Herb Gray, M.P.,

Deputy Prime Minister

Ottawa

Who mourns?

Dear editor,

Anglican Quo Vadis?

Who is to mourn

Our give-away church;

Money to Mammon,

Forgiveness in court?

Who is to mourn

The small-eyes of man;

Revisioning, rewriting

Never satisfied with love?

Who is to mourn

That Santa lives again;

Replacing history

With the cheque book of time?

I mourn!

John E. Marion

Beamsville, Ont.

Puzzling

Dear editor,

Anglicans have been made painfully aware of the national church’s worsening financial problems. We read in the Journal (April 2001) that the church will be “out of cash” in 2001.

It is puzzling therefore to read in the same issue that a Toronto priest has been named the primate’s secretary to join a three-person team in the primate’s office and an indigenous healing coordinator has been hired by General Synod. It seems inappropriate for such appointments at the national level at a time when donations are down and assets are being liquidated.

William Holtham

Toronto

A worthwhile partner

Dear editor,

I was pleased to read that Bishop Sebastian Bakare will be an official observer at July’s General Synod. Not only can he reflect on what he hears and sees us doing then, but he can also help us understand what is happening in Zimbabwe.

The daily news reports from there present a picture of a land rapidly escalating into political, social and economic chaos. The situation inherited from the former British colony of Rhodesia was problematic and had to be resolved if the country was going to forge a stable future for itself. Unfortunately, the path toward democracy, justice and prosperity has led instead to corruption and every imaginable type of violence against not only white commercial farmers but also against the black majority, including women, young people and university students.

My interest in Zimbabwe goes back to 1987-88 when I served with the National Church’s Partners in Mission Program. I had first hand experience of the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe while serving in the “multi-racial” parish of the Mazoe Valley in a vast area of commercial farms, mines and communal lands. In light of the present political climate there, I would urge Canadian Anglicans to speak with Bishop Bakare and other Zimbabweans to find ways of supporting any efforts of the church to improve a rapidly growing disaster.

Don Skowronski

Westmount, Que.

Consequences

Dear editor,

Re: Residential Schools

I was interested to read that the parish of St. John the Evangelist had written a letter to the Prime Minister regarding the $95 million which the Anglican Church would have to pay as its share of the settlements.

That $95 million would put the Anglican Church into deep debt and possibly bankruptcy. I cannot understand why the Liberal government doesn’t foresee what the consequences will be when they have destroyed the Christian churches and have to find a substitute. Apparently the Liberal government has already committed $350 million in support of a community-based healing strategy – which is just a beginning.

In the past when parishioners donated money, they gave money innocently, not specifically for the residential schools and with the best intentions for helping the church wherever help was needed. Present-day parishioners, therefore, should not be driven into bankruptcy, or denied the comfort and use of their churches.

Surely politicians are elected first to serve the needs of the people who elect them – not to the indigenous people. Why are our politicians so placid and not fighting for the survival of our churches? What have the native people ever done for Canada other than cost us money? Many of the settlers opening up the land went through just as tough times as the Indians. But we never hear about subsidies for their descendants.

Ruth E. Gibson

Bobcaygeon, Ont.

Spoils go to fittest

Dear editor,

Re: “Delegation to Mexico sees free trade evils” (May 2001).

While the information in this article is most timely and thought provoking, it did not really close the loop and demonstrate that the evidence submitted had a direct relationship to the conclusion proclaimed in the headline.

The deep poverty portrayed (and profusely to be seen in many other countries of the Americas), may or may not have a relationship to NAFTA.

As our world evolves, we have a responsibility to ensure that our world is managed by regulation that is to the benefit of our affected citizens.

Many years ago, as our society grappled with the reduction of trade barriers, the electorate of the United Kingdom voted on joining the European Economic Community. The underlying argument was that the U.K. would gain in employment, as trade barriers to U.K. merchandise came down. “Consider the benefit when U.K. automobiles can be marketed across Europe!” was the cry. Reality set in years later, when French and German cars obliterated the U.K. automobile industry.

The basis of “free trade” arguments is that the reduction of trade barriers will give countries the opportunity for expanded trade. But reality is that the spoils are likely to go to the fittest or the most astute. To even out the odds, there has to be appropriate regulation to ensure that the focus is held rigidly on the intent of the treaty, which is to raise the standard of living of all individuals.

Unless these principles are not uppermost in the minds of the regulators, that there will be no change in the size of the markets. No change in living standards means the same total market spread, among the powerful alone, and expansion of suffering for the poor.

Once the rules are defined, it is common sense that all smart people do everything to maximize their profit.

Our objective must be to make a systematic effort to raise the standard of living of our world’s inhabitants. One quick way to start would be to examine the trade laws of the U.S. Designed to protect and enhance the U.S. economy, they are the most comprehensive listing in place anywhere. They are built to protect the living standards of the most significant segment of our society.

The Anglican Journal should ride herd on both public opinion and our politicians to ensure that a treaty evolves that works for the betterment of all mankind.

Ken Belch

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Propaganda

Dear editor,

The letter of Rob Upton of Vancouver (April 2001) regarding the fact-finding mission of Rev. Robert Assaly in Israel/Palestine, is the same kind of propaganda articles and letters we see from Israel and its allies.

If Mr. Upton wants more facts than what Mr. Assaly established, he can get them from Israeli peace activists, who continue to demonstrate against the brutal military occupation of Israel and its closure of Palestinian areas. A small group of Palestinian women marched between two Israeli checkpoints when Israeli soldiers fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at them. Of course, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have the right to resist this brutal occupation.

Secondly, Mr. Upton wants the Arab countries to take and settle Palestinian refugees, but who has the right to deny a person the right to live on his own land and in his own home? Who has the right to deny a Jewish citizen of Canada the right to live in his home in Canada and tell him go and settle in Israel?

If Mr. Upton is so heart-broken over the plight of the Palestinians, then he should, among others, call Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza, and put an end to the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, with all its brutal rule. Then Israelis and Palestinians will live in a climate that will encourage peaceful co-existence, where freedom and justice and peace will begin to flourish.

Rafiq Farah

Toronto

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