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Letter to Prime Minister regarding "war on terror"



Read a letter sent from Mennonite Central Committee Canada


War on Terrorism

We are concerned about the "war on terrorism" rhetoric used by US President George Bush and other politicians, and recognize the destabilizing effects such language can have in times like these. This letter was sent to the Prime Minister's office on Friday, February 22, 2002, to express our concern about these antagonizing political expressions.

MC Canada Peace & Justice Ministries is encouraging all concerned persons to use this letter as template to communicate your concern to the Government of Canada at this time. Next week, a first-hand report from an MCC delegation to Iraq will be posted, with further recommendations for expressions of concern.

The letter was sent under the auspices of Mennonite Church Canada's Peace & Justice Office, and in partnership with Mennonite Central Committee, Project Ploughshares, and Kairos (an ecumenical peace and justice agency and partner of Mennonite Church Canada)

The Letter

February 21, 2002

The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien,
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON

Dear Mr. Chrétien,

We are writing with regard to the Iraq situation on behalf of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and Project Ploughshares. KAIROS is a coalition of Canadian churches that works on a broad range of peace and justice issues including those relating to Iraq, and Project Ploughshares is a peace and disarmament organization.

We are greatly troubled by the possibility of a US led attack on Iraq. We urge you to make every possible effort to dissuade the US from such a course. Our primary concern is humanitarian. The people of Iraq have suffered enormously over the last twenty years in the Iran-Iraq war which continued for most of the 1980s; in the Gulf War of 1991 and the suppression immediately thereafter; and in the twelve years of sanctions which have prevented the rehabilitation of
essential infrastructure including that relating to water, sanitation, electricity, transportation and other necessities. It is widely believed that the sanctions have contributed to the deaths of 1 to 1.5 million people. Most people in this once well-off society are now impoverished.

We do not defend the government of Iraq but we do not believe that a military attack will solve the problems. Canadian church groups have appeared before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT), and met with Foreign Affairs officials. We have argued for a different approach, one that would end the economic sanctions and take a more regional approach to the issue of disarmament and other matters. The Standing Committee's report, released on April 12, 2000, called for steps in this direction. We urge your government to pursue the recommendations of the report. We believe it holds much promise for the Iraqi people and for the cause of justice and peace in the region.

We commend you for the opposition to military attacks that you have expressed. We urge you to remain steadfast in this and we pray that God will give you wisdom and courage as you lead our country in these turbulent times.


Pat Steenberg, Ernie Regehr,
Executive Director Executive Director
KAIROS Project Ploughshares
947 Queen Street East, Suite 201 Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies
Toronto, ON M4M 1J9 Conrad Grebel University College
416 463-5312 ext. 244 Waterloo ON N2L 3G6
519 888-6541, ext. 263

cc: Honourable John Manley, Deputy Prime Minister
Honourable Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs
John Reynolds, Leader of the Official Opposition
Alexa McDonough, Leader of the New Democratic Party
Joe Clark, Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party
Bernard Landry, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois Party