A Canadian Forces colonel was allegedly carrying a .22-caliber rifle and a revolver on Aug. 25 when police say he shot at “protected wildlife” from a boat in a canal in Quinte West, Ont., according to court documents.
Col. Leif Dahl is scheduled to make his first appearance in Belleville court on Thursday.
Court documents outline the eight charges he faces, including obstructing a police officer, hunting a bird without a license and allegedly using the rifle in a “careless” manner.
The colonel has been temporarily removed from his role as commander of 8 Wing and Canadian Forces Base Trenton.
Provincial police say that after Dahl’s arrest, two guns were pulled from the water.
“Extremely strange” situation
It’s a case that has left observers with questions, including Rory Fowler, a former military lawyer now in private practice.
“It seems extremely strange that a senior member of the Canadian Forces, who one would assume would be a mature, well-educated and responsible individual, would be the subject of these allegations,” said Fowler, who is not involved. in the judicial matter.
“What was I thinking?”
A request for comment sent to the colonel’s email address received an automated response saying he had been temporarily reassigned.
Brandon Crawford, the attorney representing Dahl, said Wednesday they are awaiting disclosure from the Crown and have no comment at this time.
Documents outlining the colonel’s charges said he had “a rifle and a revolver, for a purpose dangerous to the public peace,” during that day in the Murray Canal.
Fowler said that based on the caliber of the rifle and the description of the gun, he is “reasonably confident” that they were most likely not for military use.
“These are probably firearms that were their own firearms, that were legally owned,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Department of National Defense (DND) said the Canadian Armed Forces use a variety of weapons, but that members are not issued “personal firearms” such as a .22-caliber rifle or revolver.
The department declined to say more about what weapons were used or where they came from, as the investigation is ongoing.
2 weapons recovered from the canal
One of the weapons was found at the bottom of the canal on August 25.
Dahl, 45, was initially charged with obstructing a police officer, careless use of a firearm and three violations of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act: careless use of a firearm for hunting, taking a bird without a license and having a loaded firearm in a conveyance. .
Three days after the incident, police searched a home in Belleville where they found three long guns stored “carelessly,” according to court documents.
Police divers also returned and discovered a second gun in the canal.
Investigators announced three more charges for Dahl on Aug. 30: possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, careless storage of a firearm and violation of firearms regulations by transporting a firearm or restricted weapon.
Court documents do not provide further details about the revolver, but Fowler said anyone who legally possesses a firearm in Canada receives training and would be aware of strict regulations limiting where firearms can be transported.
Then there’s the fact that Dahl is a member of the military.
“It is very strange that someone who has had adequate training in the possession and use of firearms would … use a restricted firearm … in a manner that is not consistent with the law,” said the lawyer.
Fowler said the strangeness extends to the allegation that the colonel also “shot at some type of bird or waterfowl.”
Police have declined to say what type of wildlife was targeted.
The charges will affect the colonel’s career
DND previously confirmed via email that the Royal Canadian Air Force was aware of a “hunting-related incident” on Aug. 25 involving Dahl.
In a separate statement, Maj.-Gen. Iain Huddleston, Commander 1 Canadian Air DivisionHe said it happened while the colonel was on leave.
That statement also announced that Dahl had been temporarily removed from command and described the situation as a “difficult time.”
Fowler said being convicted of serious criminal offenses can result in members of the Canadian Forces being released from the military.
Regardless of the outcome, he said these charges will leave a mark on Dahl.
“Even if you are not released from the Canadian Forces as a result of a conviction, it will certainly have an impact on your career,” Fowler said.
“It will pretty much stop any career advancement.”