Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Royal Canadian Legion long past Best Before date

I was a member of the Legion myself for a spell, and not just a member, but an "honorary" member!

Seems that when the Irvings were busy buying up property for the expansion of their shipyard in Saint John back in the day, there was one property owner that refused to sell; the Legion. Thus it came to pass that when the Saint John yard was in full blossom during the eighties and early nineties, there was a Legion smack dab in the middle of the parking lot!

In theory, one must have a direct connection to someone who served with the allied forces in order to imbibe at a Legion hall. I didn't. In fact both of my grandpas were drafted into the Wehrmacht. One went to the Eastern front and most probably froze to death in a snow-drift. The other became a POW in the opening weeks of the war and spend the next six years in POW camps in Pennsylvania and northern Ontario.

Neither of them make me eligible to buy a beer at the Legion.

But for some reason, that rule was kept in abeyance at the Saint John Legion. After all, if dozens of thirsty drydock workers were going to swarm your beer hall on their lunch break, it just didn't make economic sense to turn them away.  So there was an arrangement made, whereby employees of Saint John Shipbuilding were afforded "honorary" membership status. We were, after all, building those state-of-the-art frigates for the Canadian Navy.

Alas, that's the kind of common sense adaptation to reality that is sadly absent from the Legion today. The old boys who call the shots have got themselves a heap of bad PR with their latest bone-headed blast of stupidity. According to this story from David Pugliese at Postmedia, the Legion has suspended an 82 year old member of long standing because she has had the temerity to ask a few questions about how the Legion bigs were spending all that poppy money collected by Legionnaires across the land in the weeks leading up to November 11 every year.

Yup, Joan Beznoski has been told that since she can't shut her trap about her concerns, she is henceforth persona non grata at her local Legion hall, where she's been an active member for almost four decades! That's the value of the freedom of speech all those long gone veterans fought for those many years ago, apparently.


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