Around 330 active or former members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who say they were harmed by COVID-19 vaccine mandates have filed a class-action lawsuit against high-ranking members of the Canadian military, asking for some $500 million in damages.
“The CAF shirked its own purpose and rushed an untested product onto its members, mislabeled this experimental gene therapy a ‘vaccine,’ knowingly made false statements of safety and efficacy, and facilitated its mandate with no option to refuse except for mandatory permanent removal from service,” reads the statement of claim filed with the Federal Court on June 21.
“The actions of the CAF and CDS [Chief of the Defence Staff] has resulted in injury to the Plaintiffs, who have consistently worked to prevent this abuse of power from occurring and to protect the members and their families who are experiencing coercion, discrimination, and threat of loss of career and benefits in all instances.”
The lawsuit was filed against Chief of the Defence Staff General Wayne Eyre, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff Lieutenant-General Frances Allen, Minister of National Defence Anita Anand, former deputy minister of national defence Jody Thomas, and others.
In the fall of 2021, the CAF imposed a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, with non-compliance subsequently leading to the loss of hundreds of members. They left through either voluntary release or expulsion under code 5(f), “unsuitable for further service,” a dishonourable discharge reserved for soldiers with “personal weaknesses” or other issues deemed to impose an excessive burden on the CAF.
The CAF lightened the vaccine mandate in October 2022 by removing COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of service, but it kept in place a mandatory primary series of injections for numerous operational roles.
The lawsuit claims that the CAF abused its power by ignoring express legislative limits on its actions, allowing the physical and/or psychological torture of unvaccinated members under the command of CAF-commissioned officers, ignoring established law on the right to privacy and the right to choose medical treatment, and ignoring established law on informed consent and regarding religious and spiritual belief.
Other alleged abuses listed include deliberately failing to ensure officers were fully and correctly briefed on all legal and policy issues related to vaccine mandates and deliberately misusing the grievance system to indefinitely delay or stop relief sought by the members.
The lawsuit states that the CAF focused on “political agendas and taking direction from political leaders that is detrimental to operational readiness and effectiveness” when it implemented the COVID-19 vaccine mandates. It said the CAF gave the plaintiffs no way to meet the mandate by writing the directives in a way that blocked any possible means of complying with them.
The statement of the claim adds the allegation that the CDS used administrative measures to punish those who refused or could not comply, instead of following the legal process under the National Defence Act that would allow members to have their cases heard in independent hearings.
In addition, it said the CDS had full control over the grievance process, which meant members were denied fundamental justice.
Further, the lawsuit said Eyre stated he received orders from the government of Canada (GC) to enforce the vaccine mandate, which the statement of claim argues is unlawful.
The lawsuit says members faced severe consequences, including loss of career and loss of employment opportunities outside the CAF, along with loss of income, retirement pension, benefits, travel, and even basic participation in work or public life as a result of non-compliance with the vaccine mandates.
Moreover, the lawsuit says coercive actions were allegedly taken by commanding officers to force compliance. Examples given in the lawsuit include “forcing members to spend unnecessary extended periods of time outside in extreme winter conditions with no shelter or protection as well as forcibly confining members to small, cramped spaces with no respite for meals or personal hygiene needs.”
Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations for the Department of National Defence, said that as a matter of process, “we do not comment on potential legal actions of this nature.”
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