The Provincial government recently released the results of their public engagement into the issue of whether RCMP should be included in the criteria for receiving veterans plates in this province, and announced that they will not be making any changes to the program.

While this is disappointing, we have agreed to respect the decision by this government and we have no plans to appeal. There are also no plans for Dominion Command to withdraw permission for the provincial government to use the Poppy on the veterans plates. I read the letter from Dominion Command that caused that particular controversy and there was no such threat to withdraw the rights to the Poppy image. What the writer did say was that Dominion Command originally agreed to let the Province of BC use the Poppy image with the expectation that they would agree to use the Legion definition of Veteran.

In their coverage of the decision, Global News printed an article on line that included some quotes I did not agree with. They were not specifically relating to license plates, but were disparaging towards the Legion itself, and I thought they should be clarified.

Here is a copy of my letter to Global:

“Regarding your article from Oct 10th, https://globalnews.ca/news/4533337/bc-government-no-change-veterans-licence-plate-program/, I would like to take a moment to address some information you printed, specifically a quote from Archie Steacy: “The legion is a dying organization and doesn’t represent veterans any longer because 80 to 90 per cent of their membership is non-military”.

As of Oct 12 there are 45,062 members in BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion. Of that number, 10,789 or 24% are “ordinary members”, which include serving and retired military, RCMP, police officers, and Canadian Coast Guard. A further 19,727 or 44% are “associate members”, which includes parents, spouses, widows, widowers, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews of a person who is or was eligible for Ordinary membership.

What that means for me is that of our over 45,000 members, over two-thirds of us have either served in uniform or are family to those who have. The claim that we “don’t represent veterans” is in my view a red herring argument. Veterans are individuals, with their own unique attitudes and viewpoints, and no organization can claim to “represent” such a large, diverse and dynamic group. We represent our membership. What we do is to support veterans, promote remembrance and support our communities, and branches across the province contribute about $3,000,000 per year to our veterans and our communities.

As to the claim that we are dying, the Royal Canadian Legion is experiencing the same membership challenges that many other support organizations face, with the unique challenge of specifically attracting veterans and their families, and we are keenly focused on meeting those challenges. We encourage all Canadians, whether they be military, RCMP, police, their families or anyone else who believes in what we are doing, to join us and help ensure the sacrifices of our veterans are not forgotten.

Respectfully,

David Whittier”

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