Politics

Military launches investigation after reservist attacks vaccine plan at anti-lockdown rally

The Canadian military has launched an administrative review and is considering disciplinary action after a Toronto-area reservist appeared in uniform and spoke at an anti-pandemic lockdown rally over the weekend.

Cadet officer Lesley Kenderesi called on military to disobey orders to distribute COVID-19 vaccine

Anti-lockdown protesters gather at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Nov. 26. A Canadian Armed Forces reservist addressed an anti-lockdown rally over the weekend. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

The Canadian military has launched an administrative review and is considering disciplinary action after a Toronto-area reservist appeared in uniform and spoke at an anti-pandemic lockdown rally over the weekend.

Appearing before the rally, cadet officer Lesley Kenderesi warned against what he described as "a killer vaccine" and said it was "criminal" to administer it to people.

He urged members of the Armed Forces — truck drivers and engineers who would be involved in transporting the life-saving vaccine — not to follow what he claimed would be an "unlawful order" to distribute the vaccine.

The Department of National Defence has confirmed Kenderesi is a member of the military. The Ottawa Citizen was the first to report on his speech today. CBC News tried to contact Kenderesi through Facebook but has not received a reply.

Cadet officer Lesley Kenderesi addresses an anti-lockdown protest in Toronto. (CBC News)

His remarks — made Saturday during a Toronto-area protest and recorded on video — were shared on several media platforms and plastered all over military chat boards on Monday.

"You've got the balls and the courtesy to come out and tell the Government of Canada that freedom and tyranny doesn't roll with Canadians," Kenderesi told the crowd.

Claiming to represent the views of some members of the military, Kenderesi went on to criticize retired general Rick Hillier, who heads Ontario's vaccine distribution task force, and Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is in charge of the Public Health Agency of Canada's vaccine logistics campaign.

Kenderesi belongs to the Cadet Instructor Cadre, which oversees the Army, Navy and Air Cadet programs.

A spokesperson for DND, Dan LeBouthillier, said a review will be undertaken "that will determine next steps."

While members of the Armed Forces are entitled to their personal views, there are clear regulations prohibiting full-time members from criticizing the government or government policy. Those rules also apply to reservists.

Members of the reserve force can be hauled up on disciplinary charges if they make disparaging comments in public while on duty or uniform.

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