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

Members of the Langley Christian High School donated blood to mark their milestone year. (Left to right) Kiera Hummelman, Camryn Visscher, Jayde Campbell, Grace Bennett, Danae Vanderveen, Cynthia McCarthy (teacher), Carson Foster, Josh Nelson, Carsen Grim hope to inspire others to donate. (Grace Bennett/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley Christian grads roll up their sleeves to donate blood

Students went to a mobile clinic and hope to inspire others to donate

Share your opinion via email, through our website or in a posted letter. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Religion doesn’t have a lock on morality, Langley resident writes

People must ultimately decide for themselves how to act

A letter from a senior RCMP officer in Langley said Mounties who attended a mayor’s gala in January of 2020 used their own money. Controversy over the event has dogged mayor Val van den Broek (R) and resulted in the reassignment of Langley RCMP Supt. Murray Power (L). (file)
Langley RCMP officers used ‘own money’ to attend mayor’s gala, senior officer says

‘I would not want there to be a belief that the police officers had done something untoward’

On June 3, the <strong>Langley Advance Times</strong> published a two-page poster for the public to put up in their windows. A local parent is calling on all businesses with signs to take part in a sign challenge and post messages to local grads.
LETTER: Langley mom hopes to incite sign ‘war’ to send messages to grads

Students finishing high school have missed out on so many rites of passage, letter writer says

Cloverdale – Langley City MP Tamara Jansen produced a video that argues a proposed law against so-called conversion therapy would have forbidden a young man from seeking church counselling. (file)
VIDEO: Cloverdale Langley City MP Tamara Jansen produced video opposing ban on conversion therapy

Claims law would have forbidden man from seeking counsel from the church

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

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

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read