After marching 55 kilometres down Highway 1 during his “Canada Marches” pilgrimage, an exhausted James Topp gave an emotional speech about why he is protesting government mandates that he feels trampled Canadians’ freedoms.
A crowd of over 100 freedom lovers packed into the main building at Prairie Storm Paintball to hear Topp speak on April 18. Besides everyday Canadians, there were also representatives from freedom-loving groups in attendance, such as Action4Canada, the Great Canadian Cruise trucker organization, Freedom Chain and Unified Grassroots.
Topp explained that he is a soldier, citizen and Canadian and is marching for everyone.
“The difference between marching and walking is you walk to the store, but you march with a purpose to get something done,” he said to loud cheers.
Topp was a federal employee for nearly three decades, as he served in the regular forces (army) for 28 years until he transitioned to the reserves in 2019 and joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
However, the RCMP put him on leave without pay because he refused to take “a certain procedure” as part of its pandemic mandates. The reserves also released him because he refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“To be released like that was kind of an insult to me,” he said.
After becoming a tow truck driver in British Columbia, Topp noticed how hard Canadians were working but were not getting any further ahead financially because of Ottawa’s decision-making. However, the truckers’ Freedom Convoy inspired him, while how they were later treated outraged him.
Their poor treatment prompted him to launch his 4,293-kilometre journey on Feb. 20 in Vancouver.
Topp, wearing his military uniform, made a TikTok video about why he planned to march, while he also wore his uniform during a freedom rally. He noted that wearing the uniform carries a certain weight and is a decision he did not make lightly.
He believes “with every fibre of (his) being” that it is right to pursue constructive resistance so change can happen.
Topp said that all federal workers owe everything to regular Canadians since the latter contribute to the formers’ paycheques. However, he thinks there is a “willful blindness” in government about others’ perspectives.
“There is a form of groupthink so severe in every single institution and at almost all levels of government that it is manifested as a form of schizophrenia,” he said.
“I will not blindly follow orders — ever,” he said to loud cheers. “I will not bow down to high office or genuflect at the altar of medical science. I will not unthinkingly acquiesce to those with pedigree and credentials. I pay respect to those who have earned it regardless of their race, colour or creed.”
Becoming emotional, Topp said — based on his treatment — he understands the suffering other people have experienced because of vaccine mandates. He remarked that he has “stared death in the face” and prayed it might happen. However, he found a way to be at peace with himself.
Topp does not hate anyone who afflicted him during the past few years, he continued. Instead, he thanked those people for their treatment of him since it made him stronger and gave him purpose.
“I, as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, will give up everything … for my brothers and sisters in uniforms and for the working people in this country, because they have given me everything that I have and made me everything that I am,” he concluded to thunderous applause and cheers.
Afterward, Trisha Eros and her daughters sang a traditional Irish blessing for Topp. She explained that they were in a women’s choir years ago and still had the music. Since the family also knew the song, her husband suggested they sing it for Topp.
The song goes, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sunshine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
“The words were so fitting. We just thought it was so perfect … ,” Eros said. “What can we do just to kind of return a little bit back to him? And I thought, you know, I bet you he’s never had anyone sing him a blessing before, so that would be a really special gift.”
Eros attended the gathering since she believes the mandates have ruined people’s lives and she wants to ensure everyone has a quality of life without being told what to do with their bodies.
“We just support freedom, freedom for everyone,” she added.