According to legal experts, a non-binding decision by a military tribunal could procure a plethora of new lawsuits against the federal government over compelled vaccination.
The Military Grievances External Review Committee (MGERC) recently found that vaccine mandates within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) could constitute a Charter violation.
MGERC is an independent administrative tribunal that reports to Parliament through the Department of National Defence.
Over 400 military members refused to get the jab throughout the COVID pandemic and subsequently lost their employment. Of those, 157 cases went through a committee chaired by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Wayne Eyre for review.
In October 2021, CDS issued a directive for mandatory vaccination to align with the federal government's compulsion of COVID jabs. At the time, over nine in ten (91%) military personnel voluntarily received two doses.
According to the CAF, 299 members lost their jobs, while 108 members left the force voluntarily when the feds lifted the mandate the following October.
Per s.126 of the National Defence Act, rejecting vaccinations is tantamount to disobeying a direct order from a superior officer.
After the feds lifted the vaccine mandate, Eyre said being unvaccinated "raises questions" about the suitability of members.
"It's dangerous in the military to have legal orders disobeyed," he said last October. "It's a very slippery slope."
However, MGERC uncovered at least three cases where the compelled vaccination policy may have contravened Charter rights.
In their decision, they wrote the "right to liberty and security of the person by the CAF vaccination policy is not [per] the principles of fundamental justice."
According to the MGERC, the directive separated the unvaccinated into those "unable" to get the jab for medical or religious beliefs and those deemed "unwilling." Those "unable" received accommodation, while the "unwilling" faced disciplinary action.
Lawyer Phillip Millar called the report "refreshing" and "unpolitical," while Adjudicator Nina Frid said some aspects of the policy were "arbitrary, overly broad and disproportionate."
One of the cases pertains to Dallas Alexander Flamand, a former sniper with the elite JTF2 special operations unit.
Due to a history of several concussions, Flamand was reluctant to get the jab. However, his superiors 'bullied' and 'threatened' him for remaining unvaccinated.
"I was told by my chain of command, by our sergeant major, that he wanted me out of our troop by the end of the week, which was a very drastic response. I'd never seen anything like it in the 16 years I served," Flamand told CTV News.
Millar said the non-binding report should urge Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre to repatriate hundreds of unvaccinated skilled soldiers, but such an outcome is improbable.
"This report gives [Eyre] the ammunition to say those releases were [unfair] to our soldiers. He could fix it today. Turn those decisions over and bring them back," said Millar, adding: "We have a recruiting shortfall threatening operational security. But we kicked out hundreds of highly trained people."
Alberta lawyer Catherine Christensen, representing 330 members, said some clients refused the jab because they had natural immunity from previous infections.
They faced alleged threats, with additional consequences including no parental leave, no pensionable benefits, and the loss of promotions.
Christensen lauded the lawsuits as less about vaccine mandates and more about the abuse of power and process.
"I don't care if someone was vaccinated or not vaccinated. That has no bearing on this lawsuit," she said. "This is about the taunting and bullying, and harassment of these people.
"This isn't anything to do with COVID-19. This has to do with how the Canadian Armed Forces are treating their people."