By Ian Croft
Many organizations are still trying to recover from the effects of the pandemic lockdown in Canada, and the Royal Canadian Legion is no exception. With the shutting of their doors during this spring/summer the Royal Canadian Legion lost a large amount of revenue due to them no longer being able to rent out their facilities. On Nov. 2 during oral questions in the House of Commons Bow River MP Martin Shields rose to address this issue.
“I met virtually with Royal Canadian Legion branches in my riding like Brooks, Strathmore, Taber and Standard. They told me they were in a desperate situation. They have lost their usual sources of funding and they may have to close permanently. They feel like they have been left twisting in the wind by the government’s promises.”
“The minister has mentioned $20 million. When will it be allocated, when will it be available and when will it be distributed to these desperate legions in Canada and in my riding?”
Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, responded to Shields’ question.
“I appreciate my colleague’s concern too. Of course that is why it has always been a priority for me personally to make sure the organizations that work hard for veterans are helped. As I indicated previously, that is why we included the $20 million in Bill C-4.”
“I have worked with these organizations. All I can do is make sure all my colleagues and Canadians across the country support these vitally important organizations that help the people who stood for our democracy around the world.”
On Oct. 28, Shields held a virtual meeting with Shadow Minister of Veterans Affairs John Brassard and Royal Canadian Legion branch presidents located within Bow River to talk about their concerns about staying open after the loss of revenue due to the pandemic lockdown.
“The consensus was that the situation for Legion branches in our riding is dire,” remarked Shields. “Many are barely breaking even and struggling to make it through the year without shutting down. Without traditional sources of revenue like poppy sales, Remembrance Day gatherings and the ability to rent their facilities, Legions are in serious trouble. The $20 million dollars allocated to the Royal Canadian Legion by the federal government needs to be distributed immediately — without the delay we have seen so often from this government.”
“I would encourage everyone to buy a poppy and donate to their local Legion if they can. Without our support, we may not have these pillars of our community going forward.”