Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Investigation into military officer overseeing vaccines referred to Quebec prosecutor

Military confirmed for the first time Fortin investigation related to sexual misconduct allegation

Canada’s military police have referred their investigation into the general who oversaw Canada’s vaccination campaign to Quebec’s prosecution service, which has responsibility for laying charges in the province.

The move was announced in a statement from the military’s top police officer on Wednesday, which also confirmed for the first time that the investigation related to an allegation of sexual misconduct against Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service “has conducted an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct involving Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin,” reads the statement from Provost Marshal Brig.-Gen. Simon Trudeau.

“It has referred the matter to the director of criminal and penal prosecutions, who is the charge laying authority for criminal and penal prosecutions in the province of Quebec.”

While the statement did not reveal when the case was sent to Quebec’s prosecutions, the referral would explain why acting chief of the defence staff Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre abruptly sidelined Fortin from the vaccination campaign on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the Quebec prosecution service confirmed receipt of the file “during the past week.”

“Consequently, as with any other file brought to our attention by the police, we will conduct a rigorous analysis of the evidence to determine whether charges will be laid,” said Audrey Roy Cloutier. “At this point, we cannot comment further on this matter.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that he first learned weeks ago that Fortin was under investigation, while Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office has said the minister was briefed in mid-March.

Fortin nonetheless remained in charge of the vaccination campaign until Friday, when the Defence Department released a terse three-line email saying he was being removed from his position because of an unspecified “military investigation.”

The Defence Department and government have not revealed the specifics of the investigation, but CTV has reported it relates to an allegation Fortin exposed himself to a woman while studying at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, Que., in 1989.

Fortin’s lawyer has said his client was unaware of the details of the allegation until a reporter contacted him Sunday, and that the general, who was widely praised for overseeing the vaccination campaign since November, categorically denies any wrongdoing.

Experts and political opponents subsequently criticized the lack of information around his removal, saying it underscores existing frustration over a lack of transparency within the military, and raised concerns about Canada’s vaccination effort.

Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie, who previously worked with Fortin on the vaccination campaign, has taken over in his stead.

Retired lieutenant-colonel Rory Fowler, now a lawyer specializing in military law in Kingston, Ont., said the fact investigators have referred the case to Quebec’s prosecution service suggests a possible jurisdictional issue in the case.

Notably, he said, the military did not have authority to prosecute cases dealing with sexual assault prior to 1998. There is also a previous three-year limitation on the prosecution of offences.

“So there’s at least two jurisdictional issues that could potentially be at play, depending upon the potential charges,” he said.

Fortin joins a growing list of generals and admirals who have been suspended or forced to step aside in recent weeks, many of them in response to allegations of inappropriate conduct.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2021.

—Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

RELATED: New head of Canada’s vaccine rollout named after predecessor accused of misconduct

RELATED: Liberals silent on nature of Fortin probe or who will replace him on vaccine campaign

Militaryvaccines

Just Posted

People were lined up around the fields at a drop-in vaccine clinic at Newton Athletic Park on Tuesday (April 27, 2021), which is one of the high-transmission neighbourhoods that are being given vaccine priority. This clinic was one of at least three to open in the city on Tuesday. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s weekly cases continue to drop, push for 80% vaccination rate citywide

BCCDC reports 263 cases for Surrey the week of May 30 to June 5

Fleetwood Park Secondary School’s 2021 commencement ceremonies were held over the course of two days, June 10 and 11. Grads went through a small, distanced ceremony in groups of four, with up to four members of the grad’s household. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s 2021 grads find creative ways to celebrate in another year of COVID-19

This year’s Grade 12 students were unable to have any large-scale events

Friends of Bear Creek Park held a ‘yellow-ribbon event’ on Saturday (June 12, 2021), with protesters at 84th Avenue and King George Boulevard and 84th Avenue and 140th Street. People were asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard “to celebrate and to show support for our trees in Bear Creek Park.” (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Protesters hold ‘yellow-ribbon’ event at Surrey’s Bear Creek Park

People asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard to ‘show support for our trees’

All nine White Rock Renegades softball teams are set to take part in the Canadian Pride and Power Tournament, scheduled for July 1-4. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock Renegades set to host multi-team Pride and Power softball tournament

‘There’s going to be a lot of excitement in the park,’ said Greg Timm

The Lower Mainland Green Team and students from Earl Marriott Secondary remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Green Team returns to White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park to monitor previous work

Environmental volunteers, South Surrey students remove invasive species

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read