Soviets applaud Canada's peace movement

The Soviet Union has given its nod of approval to Canada's peace movement by awarding the Lenin Peace Prize to a Canadian clergyman, John Morgan. A retired Unitarian minister, Mr. Morgan has been the president of the Canadian Peace Congress since 1972.

Mr. Morgan is the second Canadian church leader to receive the award; the first was James Endicott, a former moderator of the United Church of Canada, who was awarded the prize many years ago. The two men have in common an involvement with the peace movement and a passionate, evangelical dislike of NATO and all it stands for.

Both men saw NATO, and thus the United States, as the bad guys in the cold war. A cynic might think it is hardly surprising they should be the only Canadians to have received the Lenin Peace Prize.

Not so, says the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa. ''The prize is awarded irrespective of political persuasion and religious belief,'' a spokesman said. But it has been given to people who seem, perhaps unwittingly, to further the interests of the Soviet Union more than the cause of peace.

Veteran Toronto journalist Peter Worthington described both men as naive. ''Of course, the Soviets like them. They are totally uncritical of Soviet policy. They never say anything about Poland or Afghanistan.''

Mr. Morgan gets a gold medal with a likeness of Lenin and 25,000 rubles. The value of the prize is unclear, since the embassy says rubles are worth $1.60 Canadian, but Deak's, the currency traders, say they buy rubles for 26 cents each.

Mr. Morgan has declined a free trip to Moscow to pick up the prize. He says he would rather get it in Canada.

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