I endorse Desmond Morton's call for tolerance and understanding toward Canadian Arabs and Muslims during wartime ("Canada at war: Dissent, human rights take a back seat," Op-Ed, Feb.5). As the Ukrainian Canadian Congress has repeatedly pointed out, Canada's Ukrainians were the victims of this country's first internment operations between 1914 and 1920.
Although Prof. Morton has recognized that these measures were unwarranted and unjust, his knowledge of the period seems rather partial. Bishop Budka was a Ukrainian Catholic prelate who, presumably, had nothing to say to "young men of his Orthodox faith (sic)."
The controversial letter Morton refers to was, in fact, circulated before Canada or Great Britain became embroiled in the First World War.
Prof. Stella Hryniuk, a historian at the University of Manitoba who has studied the Budka issue, has noted that the letter can be interpreted as urging Ukrainians to defend their Ukrainian motherland from Russian attack. This is not the same thing as rushing off to protect Emperor Franz Josef's Austro-Hungarian Empire.
After Canada's entry into the war, Bishop Budka sent out another pastoral letter which instructed Canada's Ukrainians to do their duty for their adopted homeland, Canada.
In the First World War, as in the second, Canada's Ukrainians were over-represented in this country's armed forces.
Finally, it should be pointed out that Bishop Budka was cleared of all charges of disloyalty in a Canadian court of law.
Instead of raising this red herring Prof. Morton would be doing all Canadians a greater service if he wrote about the role his own ancestor, Maj-Gen Sir William Otter, played as the commanding officer responsible for interning innocent Canadians of Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish and other East European origins during the First World War.
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Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
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Originally Composed: Tuesday December 3rd 1996.
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