One of Canada’s last surviving Second World War veterans says he’s won his “third world war” — a bitter 32-month fight to restore his dignity and clear his name before he dies.
Ralph Jackson, 94, was expelled from the Royal Canadian Legion by the BC/Yukon Command in March 2018 for alleged “theft or misappropriation of legion funds” at his Vancouver branch.
Now, the national headquarters of the legion has overturned the B.C. ruling, finding Jackson was never given a chance to face his accusers and defend himself.
It has ordered that Jackson be reinstated and declared “a member … in good standing” — just as the country prepares to honour veterans on Remembrance Day.
“The weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel like a young man,” said Jackson, laughing. “This was my third world war, this thing.”
’99 per cent perfect’
The decision means Jackson is entitled to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies on Nov. 11, although there aren’t any this year due to COVID-19.
The ruling is only a partial victory in another way — the legion stopped short of apologizing for his ordeal, something that rankles Jackson.
“It’s 99 per cent perfect,” he said. “I would have loved to be found not guilty. That’s the word I would have liked. But they have done what they want to do.”
As a young Jewish teenager from Glasgow, Scotland, Jackson joined the Scots Guards of the British Army in 1943. He didn’t fight overseas but trained older soldiers to use submachine guns. After the war, Jackson was stationed in various countries, only to be injured in a live-fire explosion in 1948.
Left partially deaf, he was discharged.
Jackson emigrated to Vancouver in 1966 and eventually joined the legion’s Shalom Branch #178 — formed, he says, by Jewish veterans who felt unwelcome at other branches.
Jackson went on to gain fame as one of B.C’s top poppy sellers.
In 2016, at 90, he became president of the Shalom Branch. Among his duties, Jackson administered a $100,000 legacy fund left by a Jewish benefactor.
His troubles began in 2018, shortly after he gave up the presidency.
Convicted in absentia
Jackson’s successor, Danny Redden, accused him of “theft or misappropriation of legion funds” by paying out money and moving funds between accounts without the approval of the general membership.
Jackson insisted the handling of the money had been overseen by the branch’s executive committee — but he never had a chance to fight the alleged breach of legion bylaws.
The key issue: He says he did not receive a letter detailing a time and place for his hearing in front of a legion complaint panel.
Jackson was found guilty in absentia. His written appeal — the only kind allowed under legion bylaws — was rejected. After decades of service, he was expelled from the legion without ever knowing the exact allegations against him.
No criminal charge was ever laid.
The controversy over Jackson’s expulsion split the membership of the Shalom Branch. It’s been temporarily closed and placed under trusteeship.
‘Benefit of … doubt’
When CBC News first told Jackson’s story in September, the Royal Canadian Legion insisted there was “no possibility” his case would be reopened.
But two lawyers stepped forward to help Jackson fight the decision.
That prompted the national headquarters of the legion, Dominion Command in Ottawa, to review Jackson’s case.
On Oct. 29, it found “there is doubt as to whether Mr. Jackson received the mandated notice of complaint hearing,” noting such a failure deprived him of a fair hearing, the ability to face his accusers and to defend himself.
“Giving Mr. Jackson the benefit of that doubt … I have quashed the finding,” wrote Thomas Irvine, Dominion president. “As a result, Mr. Jackson [is now] a member of Branch #178 in good standing.”
Asked for more details by CBC News, the national legion office said it regularly reviews its bylaw processes to ensure they are fair and makes adjustments as necessary.
The B.C/Yukon Command, which oversaw Jackson’s conviction, said it’s now “working on putting in place more training so our members and volunteers have a better understanding of the complaint process.”
‘Seismic fault’ in legion bylaws
That’s not good enough for Jackson’s supporters, who say they were stonewalled for almost three years by the legion.
Larry Shapiro, vice-president of the Shalom Branch, was accused of the same “theft or misappropriation of funds,” but he did receive his hearing notice, mounted a defence and was eventually exonerated.
Shapiro wants to see Jackson completely cleared, too.
“By … giving him the benefit of the doubt, they’re admitting that there’s still a doubt,” he said, referring to the wording of the legion’s letter to Jackson. “We want to erase and eradicate that doubt.”
Shapiro also said legion bylaws have to be changed so no one else is convicted in absentia.
“There is an error and a seismic fault in the general bylaws, very simple to change, so that it doesn’t happen again,” said Shapiro.
Ed Fitch, a retired major-general in the Canadian Armed Forces, agrees. While he praises the legion for reversing its expulsion of Jackson, he wants old, inflexible regulations to be updated.
“I would hope by now there are people, at least in Ottawa, if not at provincial command as well, that can see … their disciplinary regulations need serious revision,” said Fitch.
‘Bad dreams’ have ended
Ralph Jackson said he’s just relieved he’s won his battle to clear his name.
“I go to sleep at night now and I wake up sometimes and think it’s over and go back to sleep,” he said. “I was really upset, you know, but those days are gone. And I’m sure that I’ll not have these bad dreams anymore.”
“I’m very happy to be part of the legion again,” said Jackson.
CBC Vancouver’s Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca
- Ontario reports 1,822 new COVID-19 cases, 29 more deaths.
- Officials say majority of Canadians could be vaccinated by next September.
- Federal government to enlist the military to help with vaccine distribution.
- Manitoba hospital ICUs operating over capacity due to rise in COVID-19 cases.
- Nearly 100 cases of infection reported at Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre.
- Alberta again breaks records for hospitalizations, ICU patients.
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca
Ontario added another 1,822 cases of COVID-19 to its total on Saturday, a day after recording its highest single-day count of 1,855.
The province also reported 29 new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus after recording 20 deaths on Friday, when health officials said they had completed just over 58,000 tests — the most the province has ever conducted in one day.
Despite the growing number of cases, a majority of Canadians could be inoculated against COVID-19 by September 2021 “if all goes according to plan,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. It’s important the vaccine reaches all Canadians “no matter where they live,” he said.
Trudeau said as Canada prepares for “the biggest immunization exercise in the country,” it will enlist the help of a former NATO commander to lead the distribution effort.
WATCH | Ottawa outlines its COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan:
Trudeau named Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the military’s role in co-ordinating logistics, which include cold storage requirements, data sharing and reaching Indigenous communities.
The prime minister said the federal government has already purchased freezers capable of storing vaccine doses at -70 C.
WATCH | Senior military commander to lead vaccine distribution:
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said as many as six million doses could be deployed in the first three months of 2021. Each patient will need two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which Health Canada says could win approval next month because its review is in the most advanced stage out of the three leading candidates.
Federal officials warned that any timelines are uncertain and emphasized that no vaccine has been approved for use in Canada.
WATCH | Ontario prepares vaccine plan amid record-high new cases:
Quebec reported 1,269 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked to the virus on Friday, including nine that occurred in the past 24 hours.
Federal data showed that as of Friday, Alberta had the highest seven-day infection rate in Canada with 209 cases per 100,000 people.
Friday was the last day of in-school classes for junior and senior high school students across Alberta. Students in grades 7 to 12 are all being shifted to remote learning until Jan. 11, in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The province’s new measures also ban indoor social gatherings, limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people, restrict access to some businesses and make masks mandatory at indoor workplaces in Edmonton and Calgary.
Kaycee Madu, Alberta’s minister of justice and solicitor general, said Friday that the province is empowering 700 more peace officers to help enforce COVID-19 public health orders.
Fines for breaking the rules can range from $1,000 to $100,000 in extreme cases that end up in court, Madu said.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 360,889, with 60,954 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,923.
Manitoba announced 349 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 14 more deaths, the province’s second-deadliest day of the pandemic to date. Intensive care units across the province are operating at 152 per cent of their pre-COVID-19 capacity. A record high 322 people are in hospital with the illness, including 45 patients in ICUs.
WATCH | Manitoba’s top health official on recent COVID-19 deaths:
Officials overseeing the pandemic response on Manitoba’s First Nations say 630 new cases were identified over the last week alone. Nine new deaths were reported, bringing the total to 36.
The province announced stricter COVID-19 measures last week that prohibit businesses from selling non-essential items in stores and further restricted capacity at large retailers.
I repeat the same message daily. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/StayHome?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#StayHome</a>.<br>This it is the action that matters the most right now. Only go out for essential reasons.
The new public health orders also prohibit people from having anyone inside their home who doesn’t live there, with few exceptions.
British Columbia announced a single-day record on Friday with 911 cases of COVID-19.
The latest update also includes a new record of 301 patients in hospital with COVID-19, including 69 in critical care.
Earlier Friday, the Vancouver International Airport announced a pilot project in which volunteer travellers are enlisted to take COVID-19 rapid tests before departing on their domestic flights.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, appealed for people to respect store and restaurant employees as she referred to recent confrontations by aggressive customers who refused to wear masks at indoor public places.
“If you are opposed to wearing a mask, then I ask you to shop online, order takeout or stay outside or stay home and not put other people at risk,” she said.
Eleven more people have died in B.C., bringing the number of fatalities to 395, while a record 301 patients are in hospital.
WATCH | New mask mandate in B.C. a point of contention for some:
Prince Edward Island did not reported any new cases on Friday. Starting Monday, masks will be mandatory for staff and students in Grades 10-12 at all times inside a school building, including while sitting at their desks, with exemptions made for situations such as eating or drinking.
Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The territory, which saw its first confirmed case earlier this month, has now seen a total of 159 cases.
The Nunavut government said it plans to spend $1 million toward community food programming, including extra funding for communities affected by the pandemic.
The Northwest Territories reported no new cases on Friday. There have been 15 confirmed cases in the territory since the start of the pandemic, all since recovered.
Yukon reported three new cases late Friday for a total of 45 since the pandemic began.
WATCH | Mental health biggest concern in Nunavut lockdown, community food centre exec says:
Saskatchewan reported 329 new cases and four deaths on Friday. Along with 208 recoveries, that brought the number of active cases to 3,263.
The Saskatoon Provincial Correctional Centre now has 99 cases of COVID-19 — 80 offenders and 19 staff.
WATCH | Some First Nations in Alberta now experiencing 1st wave of COVID-19:
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, there were more than 61.7 million cases of COVID-19 recorded worldwide, with more than 39.5 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.
South Korea reported more than 500 new coronavirus cases for the third-straight day on Saturday, the fastest spread of infections the country has seen since the early days of the pandemic.
The recent spike in infections came after the government eased physical-distancing restrictions to the lowest levels in October to support a weak economy, allowing high-risk venues such as nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen and spectators to return to sports.
Officials reimposed some of the restrictions this week and could be forced to clamp down on economic activities further if transmissions don’t slow.
India‘s coronavirus infections dipped further with 41,322 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, and there were no signs of a resurgence as a result of a major festival two weeks ago.
The high point of new infections this week was 44,739 on Wednesday. Single-day cases have remained below the 50,000-mark for three weeks.
In the United Kingdom, the government is warning lawmakers who oppose strict coronavirus restrictions that the measures are the only way to avoid a surge that will overwhelm the health system.
A four-week national lockdown in England is due to end Wednesday and will be replaced by three-tier regional measures that restrict business activity, travel and socializing. The vast majority of the country is being put into the upper two tiers.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces opposition from dozens of his own Conservative Party’s legislators, who say the economic damage outweighs the public health benefits. Some say they will vote against the measures in Parliament on Tuesday.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the measures were “grimly” necessary. Writing in the Times of London, he said there are currently 16,000 coronavirus patients in British hospitals, not far below the April peak of 20,000. Gove said a rise in infections would mean coronavirus patients would “displace all but emergency cases. And then even those.”
Britain has had Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 57,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
What Canadians need to know about COVID-19 before gathering over the holidays – CBC.ca
This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.
Canadians considering gathering with loved ones over the holidays this year need to come to terms with some harsh realities.
But COVID-19 is insidious, an unwanted guest that can slip in unnoticed and wreak havoc despite our best efforts to control it.
“We have to ask ourselves honestly, must we socialize? And the answer is probably no,” said Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa.
“There is no way to eliminate risk except not to do it in the first place.”
But we’ve learned a lot more about how COVID-19 spreads since it first emerged at the beginning of this year, which can help inform us on where we’re most at risk.
Confusion over holiday guidelines
There’s understandably a lot of confusion about what sorts of holiday gathering might be reasonable to consider this year, especially since depending on where you live in this country the rules and recommendations differ.
The official advice from Canada’s chief public health officer is to avoid large gatherings, non-essential travel and to keep things as small as possible within your household.
Certain provinces, like Ontario, recommend skipping extended family gatherings altogether and taking precautions like self-isolating for 10 to 14 days for those travelling home from away, including colleges and universities.
While others, like Quebec, have put a lot of faith in their population by allowing gatherings of up to 10 people for four days over the holidays after a seven day period of self-imposed quarantine.
But Deonandan says we can’t necessarily rely on people to completely self-isolate on their own — that requires not leaving home for groceries, essential items or even to walk the dog.
WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam advises no large gatherings or non-essential travel
“You’re also going to have outliers who have infectious periods longer than two weeks,” he said.
“If enough people do this, you’re going to get a sufficient number of people who do not fall under that umbrella who are indeed infectious and who start outbreaks.”
Silent spread a ‘key driver’ of outbreaks
While we weigh whether it’s even possible to gather safely with friends and family in a pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind the unseen dangers we could be inviting in — even in parts of the country that have low rates of COVID-19.
“The problem with this virus is that it’s like many other viruses,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, a medical microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai hospital who worked on the front lines of the SARS epidemic in 2003. “You shed virus before you get sick and some people who get infected don’t develop symptoms.”
“That’s why what has worked is everybody wearing masks and everybody maintaining social distance, because you can’t tell who the next infected person is going to be.”
McGeer says viruses like influenza, chickenpox and measles typically present symptoms in the body before people are infectious — but the virus behind COVID-19 is different.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated scientific guidance this week that acknowledged asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals account for more than half of all COVID-19 transmissions.
“Silent transmission is one of the key drivers of outbreaks,” said Seyed Moghadas, a professor of applied mathematics and computational epidemiology at Toronto’s York University.
“There is an incorrect notion in the general population that if someone feels fine then they are not infected. A person can certainly be infected, infectious, and feel completely fine.”
Moghadas, the lead author of a study published in the journal PNAS on the silent spread of COVID-19 that was cited in the CDC guidelines, says this underscores how difficult the virus is to control, a challenge “magnified” in close quarters.
In Nova Scotia, which has successfully contained the spread of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic despite the bursting of the Atlantic bubble this week, catching those silent spreaders before they unknowingly infect others is key.
Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University, has partnered with public health authorities in a pilot project to use rapid COVID-19 tests on people without symptoms in high-traffic areas of Halifax.
It’s only been a few days, but what they’ve found was surprising.
On the first day they tested 147 people and found one asymptomatic case, the second day they tested 604 more and found another one, and on the third day they did 804 tests and found five more.
“We recognized that there are a lot of people out there, even if they’re doing the right thing, that don’t know they’re infected, don’t know they’re infectious and could be spreading to other people,” said Barrett.
“When there’s community spread of a virus that has a long period of time when you can be infectious without symptoms, you have to test broadly in the community or you have no idea what’s going on.”
‘A negative test is not a license to socialize’
One novel approach to avoid meeting with loved ones while unknowingly infectious that has emerged is to get a COVID-19 test beforehand to pre-emptively detect it.
But the timing of that test is incredibly important and there’s a lot of room for error, so it may be a less effective strategy than it first appears.
A new study in the journal Science looked at 1,178 people infected with COVID-19 and more than 15,000 of their close contacts to determine when people were most infectious.
It found most of the transition — 87 per cent — happened in a fairly wide window of time, up to five days before or after symptoms appeared, while 53 per cent was in the pre-symptomatic phase.
“It’s possible to be early in the disease cycle such that you won’t detect any viral presence. But in two days suddenly you’re infectious and now we’re screwed,” said Deonandan, at the University of Ottawa.
“So a negative test is not a license to socialize.”
Still, Deonandan says there will be people who are going to socialize anyway, so it’s better they do so with precautions in place like testing and self-isolating than nothing — even if those precautions aren’t perfect.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or the winter solstice, Canadians are being told to consider meeting virtually, avoid risky indoor gatherings without masks and instead find ways to connect while still physical distancing.
“I think the pitch to people is that yes, we’re used to having time off school and we’re used to seeing everybody,” said McGeer. “But this is the year to delay.”
WATCH | Tam on the holiday season and how the pandemic won’t go on forever
“The best advice this year is maybe not to go too far from home,” said Barrett. “Is it worth it to lose control of the virus?”
“We’re hanging on by a thread here. Please don’t let that thread break.”
To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.
Trudeau expects most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Cassanda Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, November 27, 2020 12:34PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 27, 2020 1:32PM EST
Beset by ongoing questions about Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to assuage the public with assurances most Canadians could be inoculated by September 2021, with distribution led by a former NATO commander.
Trudeau faced a barrage of questions about when and how such a rollout would unfold at a morning press conference on Friday, acknowledging public anxiety amid alarming infection rates and hospitalizations that have already scuttled holiday hopes for much of the country.
But while promising vaccine news offered “light at the end of the tunnel,” Trudeau said “we must hold on a little longer.”
“What really matters is when we get across the finish line … The fact that the doctors highlighted that if all goes according to plan, we should be able to have the majority of Canadians vaccinated by next September, puts us in very good stead,” he said, offering the government’s most specific timeline yet.
“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to deliver for Canadians, listening to experts working with top people to make sure that we’re doing this right, and quickly and safely.”
Trudeau said Canada has turned to Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead distribution and handle logistics that include cold storage requirements, data sharing, and reaching Indigenous communities. He insisted Ottawa was committed to working with the provinces and territories on securing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible.
That wasn’t good enough for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who later Friday roasted Trudeau for failing to give provinces and territories specific information they need for a potential vaccine launch.
Ford said a conference call Trudeau held with premiers Thursday night was sorely lacking.
“I didn’t get the answer we wanted to hear, none of the premiers got the answer they wanted to hear,” said Ford, who appeared at a Friday press conference alongside the new head of the Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force, retired Gen. Rick Hillier.
“I can’t emphasize enough to the prime minister: The clock is ticking. We’re going to be hopefully getting these vaccines sometime – again, hopefully – in January. I asked him the three simple questions: When are we getting it? What type of vaccine are we getting? And how much of that vaccine are we getting? To have Gen. Hillier make a proper plan, we need to know.”
Ontario called on the federal government to immediately disclose its allocation plan, noting reports that other countries have already announced plans to receive doses.
U.S. officials have said 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine could reach some priority citizens within 24 hours of regulatory clearance, while Moderna’s vaccine could be available by the end of the year, although the general public likely wouldn’t get doses until the spring.
No matter when a vaccine arrives in Canada, Hillier said Ontario’s vaccine distribution plans would be ready on Dec. 31.
In Ottawa, Procurement Minister Anita Anand also faced questions over a precise delivery date but insisted she is in constant contact with suppliers to make sure they can be deployed as soon as they are approved for use.
“This is a complex process. This is an uncertain environment. But we are on top of it,” said Anand.
“I personally will make sure that we have vaccines in place in Canada when Health Canada has provided the regulatory approval.”
Trudeau‘s September timeline was echoed by deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo, who had last week suggested the possibility of a fall goal line for vaccinating the majority of Canadians.
Njoo said Friday the Prime Minister’s prediction is “in the same ballpark” as previous rollout plans, and a good target to work towards.
But he cautioned there are still “a lot of unknowns.”
“Certainly we’ve always been sort of optimistic, cautiously optimistic, about what the vaccination rollout will look like,” said Njoo.
“Right now it’s a bit of a moving target. We have two vaccines which are very promising but they’re still in the process of going through the regulatory process. If all goes well, and they are approved, then they’re the first two out of the pipeline.”
The news follows more alarming daily COVID-19 case numbers from Ontario, which reported a record 1,855 new cases, and 20 more deaths on Friday.
Quebec reported 1,269 new COVID-19 infections and 38 more deaths linked to the virus, including nine that occurred in the past 24 hours.
Ottawa has finalized agreements with five vaccine makers and is in advanced negotiations with two more.
The deals would secure 194 million doses with the option to buy another 220 million, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.
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