Slobodian: Military Vaccine Mandate Breached Charter Rights

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While Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members were being bullied and punished — some sadistically — for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of the defense staff, piled on.

Eyre said refusals by serving members to follow orders “raises questions about your suitability to serve in uniform.” He essentially disparaged the integrity of members who served well and loyally, some for decades, while warning them to take the jab or face release.

“It’s dangerous in the military to have legal orders disobeyed. It’s a very slippery slope,” Eyre told the Canadian Press last October.

Does the question about suitability to serve in uniform now apply to Eyre who enforced a mandate that, according to a tribunal, violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

The Military Grievances External Review Committee (MGERC) determined that the military’s vaccine policy was “overly broad” and its implementation was “disproportionate” when it ruled on three of 157 grievance cases before it.

MGERC member Nina Frid wrote that the disputed provisions in the policy were “unconstitutional and therefore invalid” and impacted the “livelihood, and physical and psychological integrity of the complainants.”

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Specifically, the committee deemed that the policy violated rights — life, liberty, and the security of a person — Section 7 of the Charter protects, and the limitation of these rights weren’t in accordance with fundamental justice.

As well, she said the limitations imposed weren’t justified under Section 1 of the Charter that protects rights and freedoms subject to reasonable limits.

Frid wrote there was justification for a vaccine mandate to reduce the “the likelihood of becoming seriously ill or dying” from COVID-19.

But she criticized the arbitrary directive that separated those who were unable to take the jab for religious or medical reasons from those who were unwilling. Those falling into the latter category were punished by losing promotions, deployment opportunities, and jobs.

“The characterization that members who are ‘unwilling’ to get vaccinated are displaying misconduct is in contradiction with the CAF’s own pre-existing policies and statements that also guarantee their members’ choice towards medical treatment,” wrote Frid.

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The CAF claims that 299 people had been released and 108 left on their own by the time the mandate was lifted in October 2022. The number who opted for early retirement rather than take the jab is unknown.

The MGERC recommend that all actions taken against members who refused the vaccine enforced in late 2021 be rescinded.

So now what?

Well, the committee’s recommendations and findings are non-binding.

Eyre — the commander who should have been riding shotgun to protect everyone under his command but allowed posses to go after troops and make their lives hell — gets to make final decisions in the grievances.

St. Albert lawyer Catherine Christensen has a problem with that.

The military law expert with Valour Law is representing 330 CAF members in a class action lawsuit seeking hundreds of millions in damages for lost income, pensions, and promotions.

“From this review committee it goes to the final authority’s desk to decide on the grievance. The final authority is Gen. Eyre. The same guy that made the order is the one that gets to decide if he’s going to accept the review committee decision which is part of our lawsuit,” said Christensen.

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“We want to challenge that because the person who made the order should not be making the decision on whether it was a fair order or not.”

Christensen claimed that Eyre didn’t have the authority under the National Defence Act to breach Charter rights.

“What that review committee has basically said, in my opinion, is that he issued an unlawful order. It means the whole house of cards fall apart because if this order was unlawful, then everything that happened after October of 2021 related to those directives was unlawful.”

“He issued the order. It’s on his head.”

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