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

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Most Read