Calgary police suspends officer who made anti-vaccine mandate video while in uniform
A Calgary police officer is currently relieved from duty with pay for failing to adhere to the service's COVID-19 vaccination policy — and officials are looking into his role in posting a video on social media while in uniform, opposing the mandate and drawing comparison with the Holocaust and Hitler's regime.
In the video shared on social media, the member is identified as Brian Denison and B. Denison can be seen on his police uniform shirt.
He says the vaccine mandate imposed on CPS officers is "very reminiscent of many years ago during the world war that Hitler was perpetrating against the Jews, he slowly but surely took away the rights, the privileges, all that stuff that people find worthwhile in life."
He says he recorded the video on Sep. 29 but encouraged other officers in a "call to action" to follow him in choosing to remain unvaccinated, regardless of the Dec. 1 deadline imposed by the city.
"Those that are vaccinated, a lot of them look down on us that are unvaccinated and that's starting the two-tier system," he said.
CTV News has reached out Denison for comment, including on his Telegram account, which he encouraged others to do in his video, and is waiting for a response.
In a statement to CTV News the Calgary Police Service says the matter has been referred to its Professional Standards Section for investigation.
As well, the service "is pursuing relief from duty without pay under the provisions of Alberta's Police Act."
"We respect our employees’ decision on whether to get vaccinated," it read.
"We value inclusivity and collaboration in our workplace and in doing so, we offer the rapid testing program for our employees who are unvaccinated, for a variety of reasons."
Police Chief Mark Neufeld was not available for comment.
The Calgary Police Commission issued a statement Friday afternoon.
"COVID-19 has cost our community so much. Far too many people have lost loved ones or had their lives forever changed because of this virus. The Calgary Police Commission urges all members of the Calgary Police Service to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their colleagues and their community," it read.
"We also expect employees of the service to follow the policies, laws and regulations that govern their workplace, and for there to be accountability when this does not occur. Without this accountability, the public’s trust in the police is undermined. We are closely monitoring how this accountability is occurring in relation to the vaccination policy."
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who also sits on the Calgary Police Commission, says he finds the video extremely problematic, especially the references to Hitler.
"That is just fundamentally a racist, ridiculous, ignorant thing to say," he said. "It's a free country, but if you are taking a public salary to be at the forefront of public safety as a public servant and you want to espouse those views, there's a serious problem. That's a conversation that we need to have as a commission, with our police chief and our police service."
Carra says he is disappointed police leadership has not come out stronger against dissent within the service.
"The tone from the top is missing for me right now, with regard to our police service," he said.
A University of Alberta law professor says what is often overlooked in instances like this is the claim that vaccine mandates are illegal or go against human rights.
"When it's not at all," said Timothy Caulfield, Canada research chair for health, law and policy. "We have we already have decisions from the United States, and we have jurisprudence from Canada that tells us that (mandates are) the kind of thing that governments can (use) in order to protect their citizens.
"He misrepresents the science, he misrepresents the relevant law and he misrepresents history. And he does it all in a package that tries to portray himself in a kind of a self righteous and noble manner, as if his anti-vax position is brave. And he's doing it on the behalf of Canadians, when in fact, the opposite is true."
At this week’s police commission meeting, CPS reported 92 per cent are fully vaccinated, one per cent are partially vaccinated.
All unvaccinated employees have opted for the rapid testing program.