A former soldier and reservist who defied the Canadian Armed Forces’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate has been fined $4,000 and received a severe reprimand at the conclusion of a court martial in British Columbia.
Warrant Officer James Topp pleaded guilty to two charges of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline in relation to two videos he posted to social media criticizing the military’s vaccine policy.
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Military judge Cmdr. Julie Deschenes told the court martial that the sentence is fair and fit, noting that Topp took responsibility for his actions and is taking steps to get his life in order.
She said she believed Topp was in a state of despair in February 2022 when he made the videos and embarked on public protests.
Topp is a 52-year-old reservist and former Armed Forces soldier with more than 30 years of service in multiple deployments to Croatia, Afghanistan and other war zones.
He told the court martial this week that he was close to suicide in November 2021 after being suspended from his federal public service job with the RCMP while he was facing charges for his anti-vaccine stance.
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Deschenes said the case was not about personal views and positions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, but about Topp’s breach of his duties as a member of the military.
“You have admitted that making the broadcasts and the statements as a member of the CAF (Canadian Armed Forces) in uniform was wrong,” she said. “Now you face the consequences.”
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