Finally, a bold plan has been hatched to halt the relentless decline of the Royal Canadian Legion, which will shutter yet another branch (so long, No. 172 in Esquimalt, BC) at the end of the month and pull funding for the Veterans’ Food Bank in Calgary early next year.
At this rate, Frank wouldn’t be surprised to learn national executive director Brad “El Blanco” White will this year be obliged to shirk his important duties in the Caribbean and other sun-kissed locales, where urgent Legion business traditionally beckons him every winter (Franks passim).
Mercifully unaffected so far is the top-heavy leadership team at Dominion Command, where the number of six-figure salaries for top talent running departments of as few as five sluggos remain undisclosed to the Legion’s remaining members. But as membership dwindles, the overhead’s getting increasingly untenable at the 86 Aird Place HQ.
But this is why they pay El Blanco the (undisclosed) big bucks: According to his bril’ new strategic plan, the Legion’s graying, shriveling membership, instead of shrinking every year, will — wait for it — grow!
By 2026, the Legion’s hundredth anniversary, we’re informed, membership will swell to 300,000, somehow reversing a decades-long die-off of the wrinklies (and, coincidentally, covering Dominion Command’s nut without any cuts to executive salaries, perqs or travel.)
Ambitious? Very. At its peak in 1984, the Legion claimed 604,000 members. Ever since, it’s been in freefall off the cliff of demographics, with average declines of 10,000 Dick Littles a year. Between 2004 and 2014, membership dropped from 400,000 to 300,000.
How many remain today? Officially, the Legion still clings to its 2016 membership total of 275,000, but the true count is more like 250,000, fewer than 10 per cent of whom are actually military veterans.
So how do El Blanco and marketing wheeze kid Dion Edmonds plan not only to halt decades of attrition but return to the comparative glories of 2014? According to the bumph, they’ll, er, “continue to modernize our membership processes and develop comprehensive and inclusive recruitment, retention and renewal plans.” That oughtta do it!
Tantalizingly few details of these exciting modernizations were available at press time, though I hear they include an audacious gambit against death itself.
Currently, when a membership expires (these days more often than not because the member has expired) the Legion’s policy is to keep the lucky stiff on the rolls for three years while they send renewal notices to their widow/widower and delay counting yet another hit to the official membership total.
Coming soon, an innovative new policy which lengthens the retention period for these zombie memberships to five years. Treble embalming fluids all ’round!