OTTAWA — A military officer is facing charges after allegedly urging other members of the Canadian Armed Forces to disobey their orders by not helping with the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Department of National Defence says Officer Cadet Ladislas Kenderesi has been charged with one count of persuading another person to join in a mutiny and one count of behaving in a scandalous manner unbecoming of an officer.
The charges follow a speech at an anti-lockdown rally in Toronto in December in which a man appeared in full military uniform and spoke out against what he called "killer" vaccines.
The man, who is introduced as Kenderesi and is wearing a name tag with that surname in a video of the speech posted on YouTube, calls on other military members to disobey their orders and not distribute the vaccine.
"I'm asking military right now who are serving — truck drivers, medical, engineers, whatever you are — do not take this unlawful order in the distribution of this vaccine," the man says to cheers from the crowd.
The man also says that while he might get in trouble for his comments, "I don't care anymore."
The Defence Department says Kenderesi was relieved of his duties as a reserve cadet instructor in Borden, Ont., in December and charged by military police on May 12.
Defence officials say Kenderesi, whose military uniform was seized in December, is the first service member charged with a mutiny-related offence in at least 20 years.
A request for comment sent to Kenderesi's military email address did not receive a response on Tuesday.
The organizer of a GoFundMe page set up to support Kenderesi's legal defence said the officer cadet had been instructed by his lawyers not to comment.
The Canadian military has been playing an instrumental role in the federal government's vaccine rollout campaign, with service members helping ship shots from overseas locations and distribute them across the country.
The Defence Department said last week that more than 85 per cent of military members have received at least one vaccine dose. The high level of uptake stood in contrast to concerns about vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. military.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2021.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press