In a significant legal move, a group of 128 current and former Canadian soldiers have filed a lawsuit against the highest echelons of the Canadian military and the Department of National Defence.
The soldiers allege a misuse of power and violation of charter rights concerning COVID-19 policies. The crux of the matter revolves around claims that these individuals were pressured into receiving COVID-19 vaccinations due to a mandate imposed by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Some resisted and consequently faced expulsion, while others complied and reportedly suffered severe adverse effects.
The allegations encompass a range of offenses, including what is described as a disregard for established laws pertaining to privacy, informed consent, and the right to choose one’s medical treatment. The suit also contends that there was a toleration of physical and psychological mistreatment of soldiers under the command of CAF officers.
This legal action, spearheaded by attorney Catherine Christensen from Valour Legal Action Centre, was initiated in late September. It echoes a similar lawsuit she filed in June on behalf of 330 current and former CAF members. The named defendants in this case include former defence minister Anita Anand, former deputy minister of defence Jody Thomas, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre, Vice Admiral Augus Topshee, and Chaplain General Brig.-Gen. Guy Belisle, among others.
The claim asserts that the CAF expedited the introduction of an untested product to its members, misrepresenting this experimental gene therapy as a ‘vaccine,’ making false assurances about its safety and effectiveness, and enforcing its mandate with no option for refusal except through mandatory dismissal from service. It argues that for healthy young adults, COVID-19 presents a low risk compared to a higher risk of vaccine-related injuries in this demographic.
It’s noteworthy that jurisdictions like Ontario recommended the Pfizer vaccine over Moderna for young people due to potential heart inflammation risks, yet Moderna was predominantly administered to CAF members. The claim contends that commanding officers resorted to aggressive measures to coerce compliance, including actions that, in some instances, could be deemed criminal. It further alleges that soldiers were subjected to extended periods in harsh winter conditions without adequate shelter, and at times forcibly confined to cramped spaces without respite for meals or personal hygiene.
One plaintiff even alleges being told that those who refused the injections should be “shot and killed.” Gen. Eyre initially imposed the vaccination directive in October 2021, aligning with a broader mandate implemented by the Liberal government for the public service and federally-regulated sectors. Although the CAF falls outside the public service, Gen. Eyre’s rationale was to set an example for other government departments and Canadians at large.
Ottawa later suspended the public service mandate in June 2022, and subsequently, Gen. Eyre issued a modified directive. As of October 2022, COVID-19 vaccination was no longer compulsory for service, except for specific operational roles and deployments.
The lawsuit underscores that while these measures were intended as temporary responses to a public health crisis, their repercussions for some members have proven to be enduring. Plaintiffs’ experiences vary, with most falling into distinct status categories. Some were discharged under item 5(f), considered “unsuitable for further service,” while others chose voluntary release to avoid expulsion under the same clause. Some also secured medical releases.
Others managed to retain their employment either due to administrative processes not reaching their conclusion, or by acquiescing to the vaccine mandate against their will. Notably, 31 of the participants allege vaccine-related injuries, some of a severe nature. These injuries range from Bell’s Palsy and neurological issues to heart problems.
A previous investigation by The Epoch Times in November 2022 found that there were more reported vaccine injuries in the military than hospitalizations due to COVID-19. At that time, the CAF documented 324 adverse reactions to vaccination, with 23 classified as severe.
The federal government is yet to submit a statement of defense for the September lawsuit. However, it has responded to the similar one filed in June, dismissing it as “scandalous, frivolous, and vexatious.” The government maintains that COVID-19 vaccination is both safe and effective, constituting a legitimate response to the pandemic. The defense also argues that the plaintiffs have appropriate avenues for recourse through the military grieving process.
The Military Grievances External Review Committee (MGERC) evaluated several grievances from the plaintiffs, concluding that the CAF had indeed encroached upon their charter rights. While these decisions are non-binding, they were made public last spring. MGERC noted that the limitation of the grievants’ rights by the CAF vaccination policy did not align with the principles of fundamental justice, deeming the policy, in certain respects, as arbitrary, overly broad, and disproportionate.
Despite these findings, Gen. Eyre, as the ultimate authority on these grievances, has yet to address them. Among the demands of the lawsuit is the removal of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s oversight over the grievance process.
The repercussions of the vaccination mandate have been significant, resulting in the loss of numerous soldiers and a wealth of specialized expertise. Among the plaintiffs are four pilots, including a former member of the elite Snowbirds Squadron, and three snipers, one of whom was affiliated with the covert anti-terrorism unit Joint Task Force-2. Four other plaintiffs were part of special operations units JTF-2 or the Canadian Special Operations Regiment.
Former Air Force Maj. Serge Faucher, who served for 39 years, opted to retire rather than comply with the mandate, forfeiting a promotion to lieutenant-colonel. He expressed his admiration for the individuals involved in the lawsuits, emphasizing their invaluable contributions to the armed forces. Faucher, who is part of the first lawsuit, explained that he initially refrained from joining the legal action out of frustration, but later reconsidered, feeling aggrieved and coerced.
Logan White, a plaintiff in the second lawsuit, was compelled to leave after 17 years of service for refusing COVID-19 vaccination. He worked as an avionics systems technician at CFB Shearwater in Nova Scotia. White hopes that this legal action will bring a sense of justice and hold individuals accountable for their actions. He also believes it might prompt reflection among those who may have treated unvaccinated individuals poorly.
In terms of relief sought, the plaintiffs are pursuing various declarations from the defendants, including claims of breaching public trust, issuing an unlawful order, and causing harm to the plaintiffs. They also seek a reclassification of those released under the 5(f) category from “unsuitable for further service” to a voluntary release under item 4(c). A dishonourable discharge can have enduring impacts on future employment prospects and tarnish one’s record.
Furthermore, the plaintiffs are requesting $1 million each for general and aggravated damages, in addition to other damages for CAF’s alleged failure to adhere to the National Defence Act (NDA) and other policies. It is important to note that soldiers were discharged from the organization through an administrative process, rather than being subjected to court-martial proceedings for noncompliance with the NDA. This alternative approach limited the soldiers’ ability to present their case.
The plaintiffs also seek declarations asserting that various high-ranking figures in the CAF purportedly violated different rights protected by the charter, such as liberty, security of the person, and freedom of conscience. Ms. Christensen is in the process of preparing a separate lawsuit specifically for soldiers who have experienced vaccine-related injuries, pending a decision from Veterans Affairs Canada regarding potential compensation for such injuries.