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Judge Agrees Anthrax Vaccine Unsafe; Halts Court Martial - Canada

Friday's Canada News Briefs
By The Associated Press

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) - The Armed Forces have been dragged into the 21st century, suggests a retired air force sergeant whose refusal to take an anthrax vaccine was validated Friday by Canada's chief military judge.

"We can defend our Canadian rights, but we should be able to partake in them also,'' Mike Kipling said moments after he and his supporters jubilantly cheered the decision of Col. Guy Brais to end Kipling's court martial before it even started.

"It's great for Mike Kipling and it signals a new era in human rights for enlisted men and women,'' said Jay Prober, the civilian lawyer Kipling decided to hire instead of accepting free military counsel.

Brais agreed with the defense that the vaccine Kipling was asked to take in 1998 in Kuwait during the second Gulf War could have been unsafe, based on evidence presented in court, and therefore his common law and Charter rights were jeopardized.

Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, a frequent critic of Canada's military who writes for Esprit de Corps magazine, hailed Kipling as an honorable soldier who did the right thing.

Drapeau pointed out that Kipling resigned in an attempt to end the matter and avoid court martial for disobeying an order, but the military decided to pursue him anyway.

Army spokesman Capt. Brian Martin said from Ottawa that no policy changes will take effect until the military has time to examine the decision.