Those canes might be LOADED! Well done Boys.
Don’t oust our legion, elderly war veterans urge
B.C. government tried to renege on deal giving group free rent
By Rob Shaw, Times Colonist March 11, 2010
A group of elderly veterans from Victoria has pushed the B.C. government into retreat from plans to evict the local legion.
The veterans made an emotional plea for help Thursday after the government tried to renege on a 76-year-old deal giving the James Bay legion free rent in a provincially owned building near the legislature.
The legion’s 115 members, most of whom are in their mid- to late 80s, were told by government they would have to come up with $26,000-a-year rent, or move out by this summer.
“We have a lot of heroes here,” said Dave Sinclair, president of the Royal Canadian Legion’s B.C./Yukon Command.
“We have pilots, we have people who have served four years in prisoner-of-war camps in Hong Kong, we have people who have been on the front lines in Europe — I’d really like the government to just leave them alone for three or four years, let them finish their lives and their service to their community with a little bit of dignity.
“When you are looking at gentlemen in their late 80s, it’s not going to be long before the branch will close on its own accord.”
In exchange for the free rent, the veterans maintain the cenotaph war memorial at the legislature and host the annual Remembrance Day wreath-laying ceremony in the building’s rotunda.
The Liberal government’s dispute with veterans quickly escalated into a full-scale political embarrassment yesterday. The Opposition NDP used afternoon question period to call the Liberals cowardly for attacking veterans.
Within four hours, the government capitulated, apologized and restored the free-rent agreement.
“I apologize for the distress it’s caused the veterans,” said Citizens’ Services Minister Ben Stewart, who was forced to backpedal from statements he made earlier in the day in which he defended the rent hike.
“There is a cost to the taxpayers for everything that we have, there’s nothing free in government,” he said in the morning.
By afternoon, under increasing pressure, he switched to: “The arrangement will continue as it has for the past 76 years.”
Branch president Jack Thame called the reversal “good news” and said he’d like to meet with Stewart to discuss the branch’s long-term future.
The free-rent deal has existed since 1934, when the government gave the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 127 space in a two-storey building at 521 Superior St., near the legislature. Most of the members, veterans of the First and Second World Wars, worked as provincial civil servants.
The agreement lasted 12 premiers, beginning with Thomas Dufferin Pattullo, until Stewart’s deputy minister, Kim Henderson, sent a letter last month that said government could no longer afford the free rent due to budget constraints.
“It sort of blindsided us,” said Thame. “It would put us under — we just don’t have that kind of funds.”
The legion is a non-profit organization and the legislature branch donates $10,000 a year to charities such as the Mustard Seed Food Bank and James Bay Community Project.
NDP Leader Carole James, who grew up in James Bay and whose grandfather attended the James Bay legion, blasted government for upsetting the veterans.
“That’s what makes me so angry is these are people who served our country, who served for all of us, and are really being shown a lack of respect by government,” she said.
James said the dispute represents a larger “chaos” with how the B.C. government has handled recent cuts to arts, sports, culture and environment organizations.
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
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03-12-2010, 09:30 AM #1
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- Loco madidus effercio in rutilus effercio.
Don't Mess With The Old Guys And Their Canes
03-12-2010, 10:12 PM #2
Grab the prize plonka who wishes to evict these veterans--tie a large sign round his neck stating that if it had not been for these brave people-he would be speaking Japanese and Europeans would be speaking German.
Simples!"If you thought it was hard getting into the job--wait until you have to hang the "fire gear"up and walk away!"
Harry Lauder 1981.Me on the left!
03-12-2010, 11:23 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
- Canuck Expat May be anywhere
Just let the jerk walk in the doors of that legion wearing his hat. It'll give him something to remember!!
03-13-2010, 01:14 PM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
- Memphis Tn,USA-now
03-13-2010, 01:52 PM #5
The idiot changed his tune four times before he finally backed down.This goverment wanted to kick out veterans because over $26,000, but can cough up 550 million dollars for a new retractable roof for BC Place. Shows they have lost touch with reality."My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea." - Tommy Douglas 1961.
Tender 9 - old, slow, ugly, cantankerous, reliable!
All empires fall, you just have to know where to push
03-14-2010, 05:50 PM #6
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
That is typical of all government - Out of touch
03-15-2010, 09:20 AM #7
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