Veterans, legion butt heads over use of poppy on election signs

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OTTAWA — Two veterans operating for municipal council north of Toronto have run afoul of the Royal Canadian Legion for utilizing the picture of the poppy on their election marketing campaign indicators.

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Nickolas Harper and Chris Dupee, each veterans of the warfare in Afghanistan, say they determined to make use of the long-lasting image of remembrance so voters of their respective communities would know that they served in uniform.

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Dupee, who’s operating for council in Newmarket, the place he lives and owns a mental-health clinic for veterans, stated being a veteran is a key a part of his id. It’s also an vital promoting level on the marketing campaign path as he seeks elected workplace later this month.

“I’ve obtained one shot to introduce myself to my neighborhood and persuade them that I’m the appropriate man,” he stated. “I consider it displays my dedication to service and that my service by no means stopped. I simply need to shift hearth a bit bit and serve my neighborhood.”

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It was solely after the legion ordered them to take away the picture that they realized the veterans group owns the trademark to the poppy picture, which permits it to regulate its use in Canada.

The 2 candidates have lined the poppy on their indicators beneath menace of authorized motion, however are questioning why the legion has sole management over the picture — and why Canadians who’ve served in uniform aren’t allowed to make use of it freely.

“If that is how outlandish we now have to get on this nation, come on,” stated Harper, who’s operating to be a councillor in Bradford. “The poppy is internationally identified — it’s an emblem that acknowledges veterans and the sacrifices that we’ve made.”

The poppy was adopted as an emblem in Canada and different Commonwealth international locations in 1921. However based on legion spokeswoman Nujma Bond, it doesn’t characterize all veterans; it represents those that died in service to the nation.

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It’s also central to the legion’s annual fundraising marketing campaign, which generates thousands and thousands of {dollars} to help veterans throughout Canada annually round Remembrance Day.

The poppy picture was trademarked by the legion in 1948 following an act in Parliament, which Bond stated bestowed sole accountability for shielding the image upon the group.

That guardianship contains ensuring the poppy just isn’t disrespected or used for revenue or private acquire — together with as a device for political candidates, regardless of their backgrounds or affiliations.

“Poppies and politics don’t combine,” Bond stated in an announcement. “The poppy is an emblem of remembrance of Canada’s fallen and never a device for political candidates to make use of on marketing campaign signage — regardless of the extent of presidency.”

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She added: “We ask that they please discover different methods to replicate veteran standing throughout a political marketing campaign.”

Harper and Dupee aren’t the primary to be warned in opposition to utilizing the poppy with out permission; a fundraising marketing campaign additionally got here beneath the legion’s weapons for utilizing the picture in 2017.

The legion has additionally referred to as on on-line retailers to clamp down on unauthorized gross sales of the picture.

Dupee and Harper say they’ve complied with the legion’s order by masking the poppies on their indicators with stickers, and that they totally respect the significance of remembrance in Canada.

However they’re questioning whether or not it’s time to revisit the legion’s sole possession of the poppy.

“Veterans ought to have the ability to use the poppy for any objective,” Dupee stated. “They’ve earned that proper past anyone else, for my part.”

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He additionally is aware of there are some who will disagree with him — and he welcomes that dialog.

“I feel it’s an excellent alternative to intensify consciousness, replace sure insurance policies and have a dialogue,” Harper echoed. “If we are able to make the coverage adjustments, that’s nice. If we are able to have an open dialogue about it, I feel that’s nice, too.”

The decision for an finish to the legion’s management over the poppy comes months after supporters of the “Freedom Convoy” had been accused of attempting to co-opt the Canadian flag for their very own functions.

Requested who can be liable for ensuring the poppy was utilized in a respectful method, Dupee recommended that would fall to veterans as nicely.

“It could be referred to as out at a peer stage,” he stated. “Not at a authorized stage, proper? … So if anyone’s over the road, I’d anticipate others to name him out or her out, together with myself.”

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