A Canadian soldier is facing rare mutiny charges after allegedly urging fellow members of the armed forces not to help with the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
The Department of National Defence has announced charges against officer cadet Ladislas Kenderesi, a reservist in Ontario. Kenderesi has been charged with “endeavoring to persuade another person to join in a mutiny” and “behaving in a scandalous manner unbecoming of an officer”, according to officials.
The charge of mutiny is rare in Canada and has not been used in decades.
On 5 December 2020, Kenderesi appeared at an anti-lockdown rally in Toronto, wearing his military uniform. He warned attendees about “killer” vaccines – and called on other soldiers to disobey their orders to help distribute the vaccine.
“I’m asking the military, right now serving, truck drivers, medical, engineers, whatever you are, do not take this unlawful order in distribution of this vaccine,” he said at the rally. “I might get in a lot of shit for doing this. But I don’t care any more.”
He also called taking the vaccine “criminal”.
Officials say Kenderesi was relieved of his duties soon after his appearance at the rally and charged by military police on 12 May.
Kenderesi’s supporters have launched a crowdfunding account for his legal fees, saying he was speaking out against what they called “experimental gene therapy” during the event.
Under the country’s military law, mutiny carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Experts have said a life sentence is highly unlikely. The maximum sentence for scandalous conduct is five years.
The armed forces have played a key role in Canada’s vaccine rollout, overseeing national distribution through Operation Vector. Soldiers have also helped manage long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec, the centre of previous outbreaks. The prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has called the operation the “greatest mobilization effort Canada has seen since the second world war”.
Despite Kenderesi’s statements, Canadians have expressed a strong interest in receiving the vaccine. More than 50% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.
No court martial date has yet been set for Kenderesi.