Readers write: July 25, 2022 issue

July 20, 2022 | Opinion | Volume 26 Issue 15
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

A ‘sad day’ for Indigenous-Settler Relations
Indigenous relations work revamped, reduced,” May 30, page 14.

The governing body of Mennonite Church Canada has abruptly let Steve Heinrichs go after more than 10 years of service in the Indigenous-Settler Relations position, but they are stingy with information about why they did so.

The article also states: “Heinrichs is similarly limited in what he can say.” This implies a gag order, similar to what occurs when employees are forced out in the corporate or political world.

That is no way to treat a longtime worker, or any worker, for that matter. In the circles that I inhabit, Heinrichs is highly respected for his work.

I must ask what motivated his employers to terminate him so promptly, and I am not convinced by bureaucratic explanations about “shifting priorities.”

Are we shifting away from the work of reconciliation with our Indigenous neighbours? It appears from the article that many of them do not buy the governing body’s response either.

This is a sad day.

—Dennis Gruending, Ottawa


On stoking ‘the fires of misinformation and division’
God loves the person but hates the virus,” letter, June 13, page 9.

My response to Mark Morton’s letter is concern that this may stoke the fires of misinformation and division.

It has become very clear to us—and was confirmed last August by Rochelle Walensky, a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—that the COVID-19 vaccines do not stop infection or transmission.* The vaccinated can become infected and spread the virus, and are no different in that regard to those who choose not to have an experimental drug injected.

So Morton’s statement, “It’s the danger she embodies by being unvaccinated . . . that is not welcome,” is inviting unwarranted discrimination.

Our prime minister (vaccinated and boosted), and Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president of the United States (four doses), are good examples of the inefficacy of this drug, both having been infected at least once.

The best way for all of us to protect ourselves from the “danger,” in my opinion, would be to maintain a healthy weight, increase vitamin D and C, and spend time with people to boost mental health. And unvaccinated friends should be part of that picture, and not be scapegoated.

Demanding that a person take this drug as a requisite to participating in church is a recipe for division, hatred and misunderstanding. Therein lies the danger.

—Barbara Hankins, Kitchener, Ont.

* Editor’s note: The news agency debunks this letter writer’s statement about comments made by the CDC director on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations (


Youths need to learn about peace and anti-war efforts
Is violence the best response to Putin?,” June 13, page 20.

The mindset that conflict and warfare are endemic to the very nature of humanity is as old as—even older than—written history. A country in which relations with neighbours have long been so thoroughly cultivated that defensive weaponry and a defence structure no longer makes sense, well, good luck finding that.

Canadians are growing up with a consciousness that says violence on every level is to be expected, and that its defence requires military/policing structures that escalate at a rate commensurate with perceived conflict.

My observations tell me that, in most of our classrooms, homes, churches, political organizations and on the street generally, valour wears a uniform and carries the willingness and wherewithal to demand an eye for an eye, and thereby deter the “evil ones.”

In this environment, the withholding of a war tax and even the conscientious objection to military participation have proven to be futile gestures. We must, of course, continue as effectively as we can to hold up the candles of reconciliation and diplomacy while encouraging, with whatever influence we can muster, a peace and anti-war education of our youth.

As long as our admirations coalesce around sleek fighter jets, crisp uniforms, precise marching and “obedience over judgment,” while downplaying the cruel, wasteful sinfulness of weaponized “solutions,” there is little to hope for.

—George Epp (online comment)


The West is partly to blame for war in Ukraine
What is a Christlike response to overwhelming military might?,” and “Is violence the best response to Putin?,” June 13, pages 4 and 20, respectively.

I have just read these articles about the war in Ukraine and am deeply disappointed. While the discussion of Christian, nonviolent responses is fine, it is also standard. Both seem to blithely accept that this war is entirely the doing of Russian president Vladimir Putin and completely ignore the way the West has treated Russia over the past three decades.

Three Russian presidents made overtures to join NATO and were always rebuffed. The last was Putin, and he was told, “You’re too big.”

In the early 1990s, the American economist Jeffrey Sachs had a proposal for stabilizing Russia for an amount of money that he felt the United States could easily afford ( He was disappointed to find the American government was not interested.

NATO was supposed to be a deterrent to the Warsaw Pact. It should have been allowed to collapse when the Warsaw Pact did.

Russia did invade Ukraine and fired the first shot, but the West should take almost half of the responsibility for the war. If western politicians could admit this and cared more for the lives of the combatants than their own power and prestige, this war could likely be resolved readily.

—E.J. Wiebe, Edmonton

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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I'd like to point out a logical fallacy in the letter "On stoking 'the fires of misinformation and division.'" Specifically, the writer says, "Our prime minister (vaccinated and boosted), and Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president of the United States (four doses), are good examples of the inefficacy of this drug, both having been infected at least once." This statement belongs to the category of logical fallacies known as "the fallacy of composition" -- i.e. taking the existence of one aspect of a member of a category as proof that all members of that category share that aspect. By way of analogy, many people have died in car crashes while wearing a seatbelt; but this in no way undermines the efficacy of seatbelts. In the same way, COVID vaccines are effective: they don't prevent all infections but they prevent (or mitigate) most infections. Were it not for COVID vaccines, the number of Canadians who died from it would be many times what it actually is.

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