The Canadian military is gearing up to have Warrant Officer James Topp court martialed for speaking out against Covid vaccine mandates.
According to Topp’s lawyer, Phillip Millar, the beleaguered soldier will have the opportunity to present his case before a military court.
Initially the Canadian Armed Forces rejected Topp’s request for a court martial claiming it would pass internally through the chain of command instead.
The decision comes less than a week after Topp arrived in Ottawa having marched across the country in protest of pandemic measures.
“It’s hard to know what they’re doing, because I don’t think they really know what they’re doing. But now they’re saying it’s a court martial,” said Millar.
As opposed to internal reprimands, court martials could have graver consequences for Topp depending on the outcome of the trial. One benefit to being court martialed is that Topp will be able to have his lawyer represent him.
Additionally, the court martial would have more public exposure than a summary trial by the chain of command.
“It opens the door for us to call witnesses about the decision to charge him. It opens the door for us to call experts on whether or not there was any science behind the mandate,” said Millar.
Topp is facing two counts related to prejudice of good order and discipline. The charges are related to an incident where Topp spoke at a freedom rally while wearing his military uniform. Topp is a reservist and military rules explicitly prohibit wearing the uniform to advocate political positions.
While marching to Ottawa, Topp met with numerous Conservative MPs and was joined by Conservative leadership contenders Pierre Poilievre and Roman Baber.
“I think that he is advocating freedom of choice. People should have the freedom to make their own decisions with their own bodies and that’s why, I think, he’s walked across the country and that’s why I thought I would give him a greeting and give him a hearing and see if he has any thoughts to share with me,” said Poilievre.