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Royal Canadian Legion shuts down GTA branch due to 'overt' association with biker gangs

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In an “unprecedented” move, a Royal Canadian Legion branch in Woodbridge, Ont. has been shut down due to its “overt association” with outlaw motorcycle gangs, the legion’s provincial leadership team says.

Members of Branch 414, also known as the Mackenzie branch, were informed of the decision in a Feb. 12 letter from the legion’s provincial president Derek Moore.

“It is with great sorrow that I inform you that the Charter of the Mackenzie (Ont. No. 414) branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Provincial Command has been revoked due to the branch’s overt association with members of outlaw motorcycle groups,” Moore’s letter read.

“We learned of the outlaw motorcycle club activities from the police and investigated. In October 2023, after inquiry and for cause, the command suspended the Charter of the Mackenzie branch. We cannot permit the Legion’s name or events to be associated with organized crime.”

The legion, he said, has a policy that prohibits anyone from wearing street gang colours or attire related to outlaw motorcycle clubs, including vests, logos, or patches, at legion events.

“The Legion developed this policy in consultation with Canada’s law enforcement agencies. The overt wearing of outlaw motorcycle club colours at Legion events and premises is contrary to the Legion’s Articles of Faith and disrespectful to the sacrifices made by our Veterans,” the letter continued.

Moore went on to say that after spending “days, weeks, and months gathering information and discussing the final decision,” the team concluded that “revocation” was the only option.

Former president accused of defrauding branch

The closure comes less than a year after the former president and treasurer of the Mackenzie branch were charged with defrauding the Royal Canadian Legion of nearly $35,000.

York Regional Police alleged that between 2017 and 2019, the branch’s former president had written cheques to herself using money from the legion’s account.

In September, York Regional Police said that both the president and treasurer, who investigators allege “participated” in the fraud, had been charged.

The legion’s provincial leadership did not indicate that the alleged fraud is in any way connected to the situation involving the outlaw biker gangs.

Building will be sold

In the letter, Moore added that the building and all of its contents will be sold and any cash remaining after outstanding bills and debts are paid will go toward veteran-centric and community programs and supports.

“This was an unprecedented situation and one which I hope we never experience again,” the letter read. “I thank all for your understanding and patience while we worked out way through this issue.”

Moore urged affected veterans to transfer to another branch.

“Despite this highly unfortunate situation, we hope that you will all consider retaining your membership with the Royal Canadian Legion,” he wrote.

“Your membership will be kept in the provincial holding branch until such a time as you have decided which branch you would prefer to be transferred to.”  

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