MOOSE JAW — Military veteran James Topp is marching across Canada to protest the federal government’s pandemic mandates that he believes eroded Canadians’ freedoms and has led to his release from the Canadian Forces.
Topp, a 28-year member of the Forces, kicked off his 4,293-kilometre “Canada Marches” pilgrimage on Feb. 20 in Vancouver. Since then, he has averaged 30 kilometres a day as he makes his way to Ottawa and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which he hopes to reach by June 22.
“This has to do with government overreach that has spread into all of our personal lives,” Topp said.
While parts of the march have been physically excruciating, public support has been overwhelming, he stated on April 18 after stopping briefly on Highway 1 outside Moose Jaw. Canadians and communities have reached out and provided him and his team with warm meals, supplies, fuel cards, and enhanced nightly accommodations.
Sometimes people will stop on the highway and thank him, while others will join him for part or all of the march. A trio from Saskatoon — including a veteran — walked with him on this day. The goal was to reach Belle Plaine by the evening.
“So, it’s been a very positive experience for me actually after living through three years of pandemic response and having lost my employment and everything else,” he added.
There are three main reasons for this march, Topp explained.
The first is he is protesting federal mandates that require vaccination, testing, quarantine, and/or isolation as a condition for employment or continued employment.
Secondly, he is speaking for federal employees and those who have been denied access to employment and services, lost income, and suffered from damaged relationships due to the imposition of a medical procedure.
Thirdly, he is speaking for those who have, through the introduction of “false constructs surrounding choices and consequences,” been pressured into taking part in medical procedures they would not otherwise have accepted.
Topp sent a letter and email to every federal MP and the prime minister explaining the reasons for his journey and inviting them to meet with him in Ottawa. The goal would be to resolve how best to repair and unite Canadians after more than two years of mandates.
“We’re going to go and hopefully have a conversation that wasn’t had earlier this year (during the truckers’ Freedom Convoy protest),” Topp said. “… they were luxurily ignored, and then furthermore, they were insulted.”
He also didn’t like the heavy-handed response from police in Ottawa during the protest, specifically when they arrested veterans peacefully standing at the war memorial.
Several veterans and veterans’ organizations have told Topp they will meet with him once he reaches Ottawa. He pointed out it will look bad for the federal government if it ignores this group and refuses to meet with them.
Topp is a serving member of the Canadian Forces, but the organization is preparing to release him because he refused to disclose his vaccination status or take the vaccine. He is not happy with that, he said, since he spent 28 years in the regular forces and was serving in the reserves when the mandates came down.
“I wasn’t exactly a model soldier when I was a young guy, but I spent 20 years trying to keep my nose clean and doing the best I could,” he said. “So, this is my payback? Because I have issues and questions and I’m not willing to just go along with things right off the bat?”
Added Topp, “Can’t we all just have respect and compassion for each other and call it a day?”
Topp was scheduled to give a presentation Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. at the Prairie Storm Paintball course.