Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin facing historical sexual misconduct allegation: CTV News sources
TORONTO -- Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the public face of Canada’s vaccine rollout since November, is facing a sexual misconduct claim against him that dates back more than 30 years, CTV News has learned.
Sources tell CTV News that military police received a formal complaint against Fortin in March, alleging a “historical sexual assault.” The incident, sources say, allegedly dates back 32 years to early 1989, when Fortin was a student at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, Que.
The sources, who are not authorized to speak publicly, said Fortin is under investigation for allegedly exposing himself before a woman.
On Friday, the Department of National Defence announced that Fortin would be stepping away from his role overseeing the delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses across the country, “pending the results of a military investigation.”
Sources say that investigation stems from this allegation brought forward two months ago, but it’s unclear whether the military police approached him.
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is leading this investigation, but what steps they have taken up until now remain confidential. The allegation has not been proven in court.
In a statement, Fortin’s lawyer said he was not aware of the allegation until CTV News contacted him and that Fortin “completely denies” any wrongdoing. Fortin’s lawyer also said that his client was surprised to find out he was the subject of an investigation on Friday.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said “as women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces continue to come forward, we know there is much more work to do to make sure everyone has a safe workplace.”
“These matters are handled by authorities and CAF officials. When appropriate, the PMO is provided status updates on senior personnel decisions by the Privy Council Office. As this is an active investigation, we are unable to comment further.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan said the department is “committed to building a culture of inclusion for the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
“We are committed to this lasting change – one that sheds toxic and outdated values, practices, and policies,” the spokesperson wrote. “As Minister Sajjan said on Friday, the Acting Chief of Defence Staff advised him that (Maj.-Gen.) Fortin had stepped aside and as there is an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The Canadian Armed Forces has been under increased scrutiny in recent months due to misconduct allegations against several high-ranking commanders, former defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance and his successor, Admiral Art McDonald, both of whom deny any wrongdoing.
Operation Honour, a program aimed at ending sexual harassment in the force, recorded more than 700 cases of sexual assault and harassment within the CAF between April 2016 and March 2021.
With files from Alexandra Mae Jones