Legion may sue over white poppy campaign
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, November 4, 2010 7:42PM EDT
The Royal Canadian Legion is mulling whether to launch a lawsuit if groups in Prince Edward Island and Ontario do not stop handing out white poppies ahead of Remembrance Day.
On the East Coast, an organization called the Island Peace Committee has been handing out white poppies, which are supposed to represent peaceful conflict resolution. The Ottawa Poppy Coalition has been distributing them in Ottawa.
But the Legion has taken issue with the campaign, calling it an insult to veterans and a possible breach of copyright.
"It's simply a trademark issue," said Legion spokesperson Bob Butt. "We own the trademark on the poppy."
"It's remembrance season, it's not peace season," he added. "If they want to distribute something they can distribute a dove."
White poppies were first adopted by British widows after the First World War, and they have been used regularly there for decades. But the reappearance of the white poppy in Canada over the past few years has caused growing controversy.
The Legion has written to organizations involved with the white poppy campaign, ordering them to stop distributing them and threatening legal action if they don't.
Brenda Vellino, with the Ottawa Poppy Coalition, said that while her father and grandfather were both soldiers, she has been promoting the white poppy to as a way to remember civilians who have died in war.
"I'd say it has a peace message, it's a peace education message," she said.
For a second year, the coalition is planning to lay a white poppy wreathes at the National War Memorial in Ottawa once Remembrance Day ceremonies are over.
They cite climbing civilian casualties in war as a motivation for the campaign.
"The white poppy is symbol of resistance, a way of saying ‘war is not an option, we've got to break the cycle of violence,'" said author and activist Heather Menzies.
At least one soldier, Maj. Peter McRae, said he has no problem with the colour difference.
"I'm not the least bit offended by people remembering in any way they choose to remember," he said.
With a report from CTV's Roger Smith