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63rd Prince Edward Island Convention

Finances and membership dominate business



Getting the financial books in order was on the minds of most delegates meeting for the 63rd Prince Edward Island Command Convention held May 30-31 in Cornwall, 10 kilometres west of Charlottetown.

“During the past five years, $29,000 of command investments have been liquidated,” said Financial Chair Lynda Curtis. “Deficit financing cannot continue.”

Curtis then introduced a motion to increase the per capita tax by $2. Despite a fair amount of procedural wrangling, the motion was easily carried by the 46 delegates attending.

The convention, which was co-hosted by Kingston Branch in New Haven and Charlottetown Branch, was held in the Cornwall Curling Club, where opening ceremonies took place Friday morning.

After receiving greetings by local officials, Dominion Vice-President Tom Irvine officially declared the convention opened.

Moving on to business, Gilles Painchaud presented his President’s Report, highlighting activities in his two-year term. “Last year, a portion of Highway 1 from Borden to Wood Island was dedicated as the Highway of Heroes to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.”

John Yeo is installed as president.
Tom MacGregor

Discussing the poppy campaign, he noted. “Nov. 11 is always the high point of the year, with this year being at an all-time high. Public participation and donations to the poppy campaign were excellent. Students’ participation in the poster and literary contests remains constant from year to year.” However, it was not without its negative side. “[The 2014] campaign was marred by someone stealing donation cans in local businesses. I would urge every branch to be vigilant and ensure their volunteers are well identified when distributing poppy supplies and participating in the poppy campaign.”

He also commented on the command’s decision to relocate its office. “The finances remain about the same but the visibility has increased,” he said. “We now have about 10 times the number of people coming through the door.”

Curtis, presenting her financial report, said, “Once again the Veterans’ Service Recognition Book has been a great success and accounted for about 50 per cent of command’s revenue. There have now been 11 volumes and the continued success of this venture depends on branches providing photos and biographies of the veterans in their area. [Publisher] Mark Fenety’s enthusiasm and dedication to this project is greatly appreciated by command.”

A video was presented of Dominion President Tom Eagles outlining changes at Legion House and at Dominion Command. He also reviewed the work that Dominion Command does on behalf of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League in assisting impoverished veterans in the Caribbean. Branches brought cheques and delegates dug into their pockets for a total donation of $4,259 for the RCEL.

Delegates also heard from Donna Earl, executive director of the P.E.I. Military Family Resource Centre, which opened in 2014. “A lot of issues we deal with have to do with deployments and the separation of families. As you know, it’s when the military member is away on deployment that everything seems to go wrong and we’re there to help the families,” she said. “We also keep the deployed members informed of what is going on at home and we create packages and other items we call morale mail.”

On Friday evening, a banquet was held at Kingston Branch with Prince Edward Island Lieutenant-Governor Frank Lewis as special guest. “We are about two decades away from a time when there won’t be anyone with a living memory of the Second World War. That’s why remembrance is so important,” he said. “We will still be wearing a poppy and thinking of those who gave us the liberty that we enjoy.”

The next morning, Membership Chair Duane MacEwen presented a membership workshop as part of the convention business. He noted that the renewal rate as of March 3, 2015, was 62.8 per cent, which is a drop of 758 members from December 2014. “To remain as an independent command, it is felt by provincial command that we need to maintain over 2,000 members or face the possibility of becoming a sub-command of Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. Our membership numbers need to stabilize, or better yet, increase.

Delegates march to the cenotaph.
Tom MacGregor
P.E.I. Command President Gilles Painchaud (left) accepts a past officer’s medal from Dominion Vice-President Tom Irvine;
Tom MacGregor
Installed as first vice and vice-presidents are (from left) Stephen Gallant, Dianne Kennedy, David Perry and Duane MacEwen.
Tom MacGregor
Painchaud addresses delegates.
Tom MacGregor

“It has been stated over and over that too many people are not welcomed at our branches,” MacEwen said. “Some veteran members look down on still-serving Canadian Armed Forces members or reservists as non-veterans. It is the main problem that drives younger people away from the Legion today. The new Legion mantra is ‘a veteran is a veteran is a veteran’ and I would extend that to say, “a member is a member is member,” regardless of their membership type.”

Irvine, who is co-chair of the Dominion Command Membership and Outreach Committee, also spoke about membership. “When a modern-day veteran walks in the door, don’t ignore him or her,” he said, adding there were 29,000 non-renewals in 2014. “We had them in the door and we couldn’t keep them.”

When asked from the floor if members should cancel extra subscriptions to Legion Magazine when they have more than one coming into the same house, Irvine said each subscription helps the bottom line of Canvet Publications Ltd. “If you have five subscriptions coming into your home, take them all. Give them to your doctor’s office, or a seniors’ residence.”

Delegates dealt quickly with three resolutions concerning command sports programs, voting to discontinue bowling as a provincial sport, due to a lack of participation, and to remove provincial curling until after the dominion convention in 2016 where it is to be reviewed as a dominion sport. Another resolution lowered the minimum age for seniors’ darts from 50 to 45 years of age and up.

Former P.E.I. Command president and former dominion president Allan Parks acted as elections chair for the convention. First Vice John Yeo of Charlottetown Branch was acclaimed president after Painchaud declined his nomination.

Vice-Chair Duane MacEwen of Kingston Branch and Stephen Gallant of Tignish Branch ran for the position of first vice with Gallant being elected.

Five candidates ran for the three positions of vice-president: MacEwen, incumbents David Perry of O’Leary Branch and Eldon Doucette of Miscouche Branch, Immediate Past President Dianne Kennedy of Borden-Carleton Branch in Borden, and David Howatt of Wellington Branch. After two ballots, MacEwen, Perry and Kennedy were elected.

Financial Chair Curtis of Saint Anthony Branch in Bloomfield and Chair Claus Brodersen of Kingston Branch were acclaimed for another term respectively. Theresa Gallant of Wellington Branch was elected vice-chair in a race with Shirley Doucette of Miscouche Branch.

In his acceptance speech, Yeo said, “We have to work on retention of members. The Legion should be a place where all members feel at home.” 


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