The findings of the Military Grievances External Review Committee (MGERC) have sparked widespread discussions about the implications of the COVID-19 vaccination policy within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The committee’s recent examination has shed light on the complexities surrounding the implementation of this policy and its potential infringement upon Charter rights. A report by CTV News reveals that over 157 cases have been presented to the committee, highlighting the experiences of military personnel who have faced dismissal or resignation due to their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The significant number of cases brought before the committee has raised concerns about the rights of soldiers who have chosen not to be vaccinated. In fact, the committee has identified at least three instances where the vaccination policy and associated directives may have encroached upon these soldiers’ rights. Arbitrator Nina Frid, who led the review, expressed apprehension about the framework of the policy, describing certain aspects as “arbitrary, overly broad, and disproportionate,” according to CTV News.
One individual affected by this policy is Dallas Alexander Flamand, a former elite special operations sniper from FOI2, who was medically released from the military due to the vaccination mandate. Flamand’s experience sheds light on the personal struggles faced by those who oppose the vaccination requirement. He recounted instances of bullying and threats from higher-ranking officers in response to his resistance to the vaccination mandate. Flamand explains, “By Monday I was… being threatened, I was being told that I would be kicked out of our troop. They wanted me posted out of the unit. And this was like, it was like I said, I’d never seen a response like this to anything in my time there.”
The release process for those who refused the vaccine appeared to be expedited once the mandate became official. This raises questions about the balance between public health concerns and individual rights within the military framework. While the CAF considers the findings of the committee, uncertainties remain about how the organization will respond. It remains to be seen whether the Canadian Forces will contest the claims made by the MGERC in a federal court. Dallas Alexander Flamand’s sentiments reflect the prevailing uncertainty in the situation. He expresses his lack of confidence, saying, “I don’t know what to expect with this government, with Canada, with any of it. Like, how much I’ve seen things censored and changed and how corrupt it seems to be.”
The examination conducted by the MGERC has brought to the forefront the complexities that arise when public health measures intersect with individual freedoms, particularly within the context of the military. It is evident that finding the right balance between ensuring the health and safety of military personnel and respecting their individual choices is a challenging task. As the discussions and debates continue, it is crucial to consider the implications that vaccine mandates may have on the rights and liberties of those serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. This ongoing conversation will shape the future of the COVID-19 vaccination policy within the military and have broader implications for the balance between public health and personal freedoms in the country.