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The Globe and Mail

March 9: Ancestry, politics, Ukraine. Plus other letters to the editor

Letters to the Editor should be exclusive to The Globe and Mail. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. Try to keep letters to fewer than 150 words. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. To submit a letter by e-mail, click here: letters@globeandmail.com

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Ancestry, politics

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Re Freeland Knew Of Grandfather's Nazi Ties (March 8): What this article exposes is the dichotomy of backgrounds for many of the Ukrainian diaspora. Those of us who are descendants of Ukrainian immigrants to Canada share in the issue of relatives who chose sides during the Second World War. Some chose the Nazis while some chose the Communists.

What we witness today in Ukraine has roots going back much further in history. Four to five centuries of "neighbours" endeavouring to gain control of the land upon which you live will result in many divisions of loyalties. Those with Ukrainian roots emigrating from the displacement camps in Germany after the war will have "served under the Nazi boot" in one form or other – either voluntarily or under subjugation, and only they will know where their true hearts reside.

Walter F. Petryschuk, Sarnia, Ont.

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It's become commonplace in the West to build monuments to the Holocaust, while the perpetrators' personal histories stay obscured and unclear, especially within families. Indeed, we are building such a memorial in Ottawa.

In 2002, a group of German scholars published a book, Opa war kein Nazi (Grandpa was not a Nazi). While German society has embraced public recognition of the Holocaust by building memorials, the stories within families remain buried and painful. What the scholars found was that even when grandparents came close to a full confession, the children and grandchildren would reinterpret what was said to maintain the solidarity of the family, to protect the older generation.

Memorials have a way of silencing the past as much as invoking memory. As Canada reflects on the legacy of residential schools, we may build memorials, but we also need to do so much more.

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Mark A. Wolfgram, Ottawa

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It is far too glib to dismiss reports of the work of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland's grandfather during the Second World War as "Russian disinformation" (Ottawa Backs War-Torn Ukraine, Extends Mission By Two Years – March 7). The detailed reports of Michael Chomiak's activity in Nazi-occupied Poland as the chief editor of a Nazi newspaper require more than a terse dismissal. The central question here is not simply historical. The contemporary question is whether Canadians can believe the stories offered by prominent political figures about both their ancestry and their present political bias.

Larry Hannant, Victoria

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I applaud the Liberal government for standing firm and extending the mission to Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is employing the same strategies as the Viet Cong did in using democratic freedom of speech to spread disinformation to make their propaganda news believable. We have seen Mr. Putin's denying and lying since the invasion of Crimea. We don't want history to repeat itself.

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Thuan Truong, Toronto

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Not uber impressed

Re Liberals Vow To Give Uber Green Light If Re-Elected (March 8): So, if the B.C. Liberals are returned to office, they will allow Uber to operate here – but they want us to funnel several million dollars into the taxi industry to make it more competitive?

Government created the taxi monopoly, that monopoly got lazy and didn't use its extra-normal profits to modernize, and now B.C.'s taxpayers are supposed to subsidize this industry? What kind of dim-witted plan is this?

Taivo Evard, Vancouver

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Justice. For some

The Alberta justice system is now a commodity (Alberta Orders Crowns To Weigh Cost Of Justice, March 8). The rich, sophisticated white-collar criminal who has committed a complicated embezzlement walks, while the poor and desperate slob who robs a convenience store goes to jail.

So much for "justice is blind."

Marty Cutler, Toronto

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Meaningful consent

Re Consent And The Halifax Ruling: Did The Judge Err? (March 6): I have thought a lot about consent over the past few years in my academic research, and have come to realize that many people still hold the view that individuals who are intoxicated may be able to meaningfully consent to sex.

For those who still hold this viewpoint, I would like to pose an analogy for consideration, provided by distinguished American law professor, Stephen Schulhofer: Let's imagine that John, a college student, gets drunk at a party. When John collapses into bed, another student, Bill, reaches into John's pocket and takes his wallet over his murmured objections. "Do we treat John as 'consenting' to Bill's act? Would we tell him to 'stop whining' or to just 'get over it' if he filed a complaint for theft? Of course not."

I am puzzled as to why, according to the judge in the Halifax case, a drunk person is capable of consenting to sex when it is evident that a person in a similar drunken state would be recognized as incapable of consenting to other activities? The next time there is a case involving sexual assault and drunkenness, I hope that Prof. Schulhofer's analogy is put to use to help demonstrate a clear lack of consent on behalf of the complainant.

Andria Bianchi, Waterloo, Ont.

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Picture patriotism

Letter writer Julian Brown suggests a national portrait gallery would be successful in Ottawa, supporting this position by quoting attendance statistics for galleries in London and Washington (Portraits For The Ages , March 8).

It is important to keep in mind that both these galleries have free admission for all age groups – a policy which regrettably is unlikely to be implemented in Canada.

A.M. Clayton, Ottawa

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Kate Taylor's assessment of the best use of the heritage building at 100 Wellington Street in Ottawa, once the U.S. embassy, has drawn attention to a major gap in our national patrimony: the absence of a national portrait gallery (Portrait Of A Building As An Ideal Opportunity For A Gallery – Arts, Feb. 4).

This gap is serious in several respects: Canadian history generally receives inadequate attention in schools; one of the most effective means to convey Canada's history is through the lives of remarkable Canadians from every walk of life; in a country rich in diversity, there are few better means of creating a common bond than by celebrating those who are the embodiment of our history; the extensive portrait collection is currently inaccessible to most people.

It is past time to establish a national portrait gallery. It would be an act of signal patriotism to achieve such a laudable objective.

A.J. Diamond, Toronto

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T-shirt wisdom?

With the political turmoil in the United States, perhaps the inscription inside the Statue of Liberty should be changed from "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free" to the words on the back of my hiking shirt: Don't follow me – I'm lost.

Ian Savidge, Toronto

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