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6000 Rally in Toronto; Archbishop Urges Priests to Pray for Reduced Sentences

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More than 6000 persons filled Nathan Philips Square at a noon rally today to protest the sentences imposed on the Leningrad defendants. The rally, sponsored by the Canadian Jewish Congress was addressed by Congress officials and prominent rabbis. Messages from six major church organizations and Toronto city officials were read. The Rev. Fred Bullen, General Secretary of the Canadian Baptist Federation, sent a telegram to Soviet Ambassador Ivan Shpedko in Ottawa deploring the severity of the sentences. “We earnestly plead that the USSR show mercy by commuting the death sentences and shortening the prison terms of the other defendants.” In Vancouver, the Pacific Region of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews Issued a protest stating “The imposition of death sentences for a crime with apparent political overtones is a complete miscarriage of justice.” They urged the Soviet officials to reconsider their verdict. In Toronto, Allan Grossman, Minister of Correctional Services for the Ontario Provincial Government, sent a telegram to Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau asking him to intercede with the Soviet authorities on behalf of the Leningrad defendants. Trudeau sent a personal message to the Soviet Ambassador in Ottawa.

Toronto’s Catholic Archbishop Philip Pocock issued a diocesan letter requesting priests to pray for “a reduction of the cruel sentences of those seeking liberation from oppression.” Max Federman, head of the Fur Workers Union, urged a work stoppage at noon on behalf of the Leningrad defendants. Vernon Singer, member of the Ontario legislature, called on all Canadians to protest the verdicts. In Winnipeg’s City Square some 300 persons attended a Chanukah candle-lighting ceremony last night to protest the sentences. In Montreal, more than 3000 persons are expected to assemble tonight at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel for a rally. According to Monroe Abbey, president of the CJC which organized the rally, it will be addressed by Canadian academic, religious and cultural leaders.

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