Rob Hyndman alerts us to yet another attack on free speech up in Canada. The Canadian Armed Forces are apparently forcing wounded veterans to sign a form promising not to criticize the military on social media. In fact, they’re told they should “discourage others in uniform.” They’re also told not to discuss “your views on any military subject.” Not surprisingly, many of those receiving these forms are not too pleased about it. The military claims that it’s just been designed to “educate” veterans. The statement to the Ottawa Citizen is quite incredible:
In an email to the Citizen, the JPSU denied that the creation of the policy and document was designed to stifle criticism of politicians and senior military staff. It was created “in an effort to educate our members and personnel on what constitutes the appropriate and inappropriate use of social media and the possible ramifications for a CAF member,” the email added.
But, many others quoted in the same article note that it goes way beyond an education effort, and is clearly much more of an attempt to stifle free speech and criticism of the military.
Ottawa lawyer and former military officer Michel Drapeau said the form is an obvious attempt to intimidate those who were injured and prevent them from speaking out about ill treatment.
“It’s not illegal but it’s obviously a threat,” said Drapeau, who has represented injured soldiers as they try to get benefits from the federal government. “The criticism about the leadership’s failure to take care of the wounded is obviously hitting home.”
There is, of course, a fine line — especially with military personnel — about what they can and should communicate with the rest of the world. But this really does seem like a way to try to silence wounded vets who might have very legitimate criticisms as to how they’ve been treated.