'My reputation is being shredded': 94-year-old veteran speaks out to clear name
VANCOUVER -- A Second World War veteran is facing a different kind of battle these days.
Ralph Jackson, 94, said he’s being accused of wrongdoing by a group he’s helped serve for decades.
“My reputation is being shredded,” Jackson told CTV News Vancouver.
He moved to Canada from Scotland in 1966 and since he arrived in Vancouver, he has spent 30 years volunteering for the Royal Canadian Legion’s Shalom Branch in Kitsilano.
A complaint form written on Jan. 18, 2018 alleges Jackson misappropriated legion funds by moving money from one account to another without approval.
“If I had done something wrong, my conscience would allow me to fade it away somewhere – but I haven't. And so, my whole nature, and my heart, are nearly broken,” Jackson said.
He said the same people who were making the accusations would have also signed to authorize any money transfers.
On the same day Jackson’s complaint was being filed, a similar one was being written for Larry Shapiro.
“Confusion and disbelief,” Shapiro said, describing how he felt when he received that letter.
But unlike Jackson, Shapiro got a second letter detailing information on a committee hearing about the allegations.
“The hearing committee deliberated during the break after the complainant presented his case, and unanimously agreed that the complainant did not prove this case and subsequently adjourned the hearing,” he said.
He was hoping a similar outcome would happen for Jackson.
“We were painted by the same brush,” he said. “So my motive was, if I can prove the charges were bogus and invalid, then certainly the charges which were the same against (Jackson), are as bogus and invalid.”
But that didn’t happen.
Since Jackson said he didn’t get a letter informing him of the hearing, he feels he wasn’t able to properly defend his honour.
The legion said a letter was sent, but Canada Post cannot provide a delivery scan to track the letter.
“This situation is very unfortunate and the decision to expel any member is not taken lightly,” said Veronica Brown, executive director of the legion’s BC/Yukon Command, in an email to CTV News.
“Expulsion from the Legion is a rare occurrence and is only undertaken for serious offences.”
“Upon receiving the decision of the complaint committee, Mr. Jackson exercised his right and appealed the decision and the decision of the appeal committee was to uphold the decision of the complaint committee,” Brown wrote.
In response, Jackson said he was never able to speak in front of any committees.
“That's total nonsense. Because they never let me appeal verbally, only by letter,” he said.
He said to this day, he still doesn’t know the circumstances of what he’s accused of and how much he allegedly misappropriated.
Shapiro said he also hasn’t been able to get many answers.
“Their bylaws say that they must explain what the charges were; I was stonewalled and not ever given one explanation,” he said.
Fed up with the process over the last two-and-a-half years, Jackson said he is not letting up and is speaking out publicly to bring attention to his plight.
“They think that because I’m 94 years old, I'm going to just die,” he said. “And so therefore, all the stuff that’s done to me, will just die by the wayside. But (that) ain't gonna happen. I’m going to go until the last breath in body, I’ve done nothing wrong; I’ve never stolen money.”