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Soldier charged for speaking out against vaccine requirements while in uniform



OTTAWA — A Canadian soldier who publicly spoke out against federal vaccine requirements while in uniform has been charged while another Armed Forces member has been fined after posting a video supporting the Freedom Convoy.

The Defence Department confirmed the charges against Warrant Officer James Topp and finding of guilt against Aviator Riley MacPherson on Wednesday, adding six other service members remain under investigation for criticizing government policy.

A 22-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who served in Afghanistan, Topp faces two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline for comments that he made while wearing his uniform in February.

A copy of the charge sheet provided by his lawyer, Phillip Millar, says one of the charges relates specifically to a video posted to TikTok in which the army reservist criticized vaccine requirements for military personnel and other federal employees.


The second charge deals with similar criticisms that Topp made in Surrey, B.C., around the same time, also while in uniform. A professional-looking video of those comments was later published to social media.

Canadian Armed Forces members are severely restricted in the comments they can make while in uniform, particularly when it comes to criticizing government policies, in large part to protect the military from any perception of politicization.

But Millar argued such restrictions should not apply to policies that affect Armed Forces members personally.

“We don’t want people in uniform making political statements,” he said. “But this is not a case where he’s supporting the NDP or the Conservative government. He’s speaking about a policy that directly affects him, and his conviction.”

Topp in his first video acknowledged he did not have authorization to wear his uniform while speaking out against the vaccine mandates, and that he took full responsibility for his actions and the consequences.

But the warrant officer, who is currently in the midst of a 4,000-kilometre march from Vancouver to Ottawa that started on Feb. 20, added: “I do not believe that the state should have the power over my body and what goes into it.”

He later shot a second video in civilian clothing, saying he had been ordered to take the first video down, but the original remains available on social media.

Chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre ordered all military personnel to be fully vaccinated by mid-October to protect the Canadian Armed Forces from COVID-19. The deadline was later extended to mid-December.

While most service members complied with the order, with the Defence Department reporting more than 98 per cent of Canadian troops had gotten vaccinated, hundreds of others did not and have been — or are in the process of being — kicked out.

The military requirement followed a similar mandate for all federal civil servants.

Millar alleged his client was initially offered a trial by court martial, in which the case would be heard by a judge or panel, but that they later changed it to a summary trial, meaning Topp’s chain of command will hear the case.

The change means that not only will the case not be heard by an impartial and independent body, Millar said, and Topp won’t be able to bring legal counsel to his hearing.

“The opportunity to explore whether or not the policy was, in fact, legal is denied to him,” Millar said.

The Defence Department did not respond to questions about whether the case was changed from a court martial to summary trial.

However, the fine against MacPherson followed a summary trial in which he was found guilty in February of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline after posting a video voicing support for the Freedom Convoy while in uniform.

The convoy saw hundreds of demonstrators block streets in Ottawa with big rigs and other trucks to protest COVID-19 restrictions, vaccine mandates and Trudeau’s government. Officials described the three-week protest as an “occupation.”

Protesters also blocked border crossings at Coutts, Alta., Windsor, Ont., and Emerson, Man., and the pacific highway crossing in B.C. — effectively corking trade between Canada and the United States.

“As we have stated before, members of the CAF must remain impartial when communicating publicly and are not permitted to express their personal views when in uniform,” Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in a statement.

“The CAF will continue to take appropriate disciplinary and/or administrative action to hold members accountable for their actions.”

The Defence Department said 13 Armed Forces members have been or are being investigated for publicly criticizing government policy. Military police are currently conducting two of those investigations, while four others are being led by individual units.

Officials opted not to charge the remaining five, three of whom have since left the military.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2022.


Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


India asks Canada to recall several dozen diplomats – Hindustan Times



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Canada secures second place in 2023 Best Country Rankings



Achieving second place might sound like a disappointment. However, the second place means a lot in the global ranking of countries, and Canada has recently secured that spot.

The 2023 Best Countries rankings by US News & World Report placed Canada in second place. In the rankings, Switzerland won the first place and Sweden in third place.

By taking up the second place, Canada toppled Germany since the country earned the second place last year. Consequently, Australia and the US occupied the fourth and fifth place in the rankings.

The ranking system

US News’ Best Countries ranking system is a yearly ranking of the best countries to live in according to several metrics. The annual ranking originally started in 2015, in which the ranking attempts to “examine a country’s merit beyond hard metrics.”


To determine the ranks, the news outlet consults several prominent institutions. They include the global advertising company WPP and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. US News & World Report uses the former’s BAV brand analytics tool and consults with the latter’s professor David Reibstein. Thus far, the news outlet relies on 73 attributes to describe a country and identify its recent successes.

Subsequently, the news outlet distributed the survey from March 17 to June 12 to 17,000 respondents around the world. The survey includes 87 nations, and the respondents will assess the countries’ merits based on their perceptions.

Other than Canada, the top 10 countries in the ranking come from highly developed countries around the world such as Switzerland, Sweden, the United States, Australia, Japan, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. 

Canada exceeded the score of 90 in agility (94.1), quality of life (92.7), and social purpose (93.4). The following scores are entrepreneurship (84.2), open for business (80.1), cultural influence (55.0), adventure (54.5), power (41.9), and heritage (41.6). 

Canada concluded its ranking by obtaining a score of 17.8 for the Movers metric with attributes such as differentness, distinctiveness, dynamicity, and uniqueness. Of the four, dynamicity occupies the top ranking with a score of 36.8. Distinctiveness takes second place in 26.3, followed by the measly scores of differentness and uniqueness of 5.0 and 9.3, respectively.

Another thing to consider in the Movers category is the recent issues of surging living costs and housing. As Canada’s housing crunch continues, this might have affected people’s perception of the reality of living in the country.

Canada’s strong scores

There are several reasons why Canada managed to snatch the runner-up position in the 2023 Best Countries rankings. Its global connectivity and decent job market, for instance, almost reached a perfect score with 95.5 and 98.4, respectively, thanks to Canada’s reputation as a highly interconnected country with good job prospects. 

According to US News, Canada is a high-tech industrial society with high living standards. After the trade agreements with the US in the 1980s and 1990s, both countries have become each other’s largest trading partners.

In addition, US News also said that Canada owes its economic success to the service sector and export of energy, food, and minerals. With the availability of proven oil reserves, Canada has emerged as the world’s fourth-largest oil producer.

Canada also won the perfect score in the racial equality and religious freedom categories. Thanks to the myriad of ethnic and religious groups in the country, Canada has attained the status of a multicultural society. Despite the post-Christian and secular state of modern Canada, Canada’s multiculturalism allows many religions and beliefs to flourish in the country.

Another reason behind Canada’s high rank in the Best Countries rankings is the near-perfect score of economic stability and hospitality to families. Owing to Canada’s famed reputation as a comfortable country to live in, many people think it’s best to raise families there.

The tourism industry in Canada is also something to behold. Canadian urban and natural tourist spots from British Columbia to Nunavut spoil domestic and foreign tourists with abundant options. Tourists can experience anything from Canada’s natural majesty to urban excellence in any of Canada’s provinces and territories.

The availability of SIM providers such as eSIM United States tourists adds to the convenience of tourists from the US and anywhere else. Various kinds of data plans are also available in Canada, which makes the country a desirable destination for travel aficionados who love to share their journeys online. With these plans, tourists don’t have to worry about internet coverage anymore when they explore Canada.

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India tells Canada to withdraw dozens of diplomatic staff: Report



India has told Canada to withdraw dozens of diplomatic staff amid heightened tensions between the two nations over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, according to a report published by Financial Times.

People familiar with the matter informed FT that Ottawa has been told by New Delhi that it must repatriate around 40 diplomats by October 10.

Ties between India and Canada have become seriously strained over Canadian suspicion that Indian government agents had a role in the June murder in Canada of a Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who India had labeled a “terrorist”. India has dismissed the allegation as absurd.

Canada has 62 diplomats in India and India had said that the total should be reduced by 41, the newspaper said.


Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said earlier there was a “climate of violence” and an “atmosphere of intimidation” against Indian diplomats in Canada, where the presence of Sikh separatist groups has frustrated New Delhi.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration urged the Indian government to cooperate with Canada in its investigations into the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller said, “As he made clear then, I’ll reiterate now, we remain in close coordination with our Canadian colleagues on this question.”

“We have engaged with the Indian government on a number of occasions to urge them to cooperate with Canada’s investigation. The secretary had an opportunity to do that in his meeting with the foreign minister on Friday,” he said.

Currently, the United States is in close coordination with Canada on allegations regarding the Indian government’s involvement in the Nijjar killing row.

India has suspended its visa services in Canada, following Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s allegations of Indian involvement in the killing.


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