The high-ranking military officer who oversaw Canada’s vaccine launch campaign is about to be indicted on one count of sexual assault, although one of his attorneys is raising questions about the timing of that decision in relation to the federal election.
Major-Gen. Dany Fortin is scheduled to report to police in Gatineau, Que., This morning after being told that an arrest warrant had been issued in connection with an alleged incident dating back to early 1988, attorney Natalia Rodríguez said. to The Canadian Press.
Fortin, who previously served in Afghanistan and commanded NATO troops in Iraq before leading Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort, is expected to address reporters after appearing before police.
The military officer was recalled from the vaccine launch on May 14, five days before the National Investigative Service of Canadian Forces referred a sexual misconduct investigation to the Quebec prosecutor’s office to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
Fortin, through his lawyers, has denied any wrongdoing and says his reputation has been seriously damaged by the prosecution. He is now fighting in Federal Court for reinstatement of his previous position with the Public Health Agency of Canada, or an equivalent position.
The military man and his legal team were surprised by the decision to press charges, said Rodríguez, who represents Fortín in his application to the Federal Court and is not a member of his criminal team.
He added that so far little information has been provided to Fortin’s legal advisers about the allegation against his client, “so he doesn’t know what this is about at all.”
Rodríguez questioned the timing of the accusation against Fortín, which comes days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the election.
Liberals have been criticized for months for not doing more to address sexual misconduct in the Canadian military.
Fortin’s lawyers have argued in Federal Court that the decision to remove their client was unreasonable, lacked procedural fairness, and involved undue political interference in the military chain of command by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Minister of Health. Patty Hajdu, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and the Secretary of the Privy Council.
The government must respond to those accusations on September 17, three days before voters go to the polls.
The lawyer questions the timing of the charges against the general who led the vaccination campaign. #CDNPoli #DanyFortin #Military
“The timing of the charge raises questions,” Rodriguez said. “We will seek to answer those questions and make sure this is not politically motivated and is correct. Like the major general. As Fortin’s attorneys, we have a duty to ensure that there has been no inappropriate political interference in this case. “
Defense Department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande declined to comment Tuesday night, saying in an email: “As the matter progresses through the legal process, it would be inappropriate for us to provide further comment.”
Trudeau and Sajjan officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Fortin is not the only high-ranking military officer the government is fighting.
Admiral Art McDonald said last week that he planned to return to work as chief of defense staff after a five-month investigation into his conduct did not result in charges. But the Liberal government ordered McDonald to stay on administrative leave until they could decide what to do with him.
The government subsequently promoted the acting chief of defense, General Wayne Eyre.
This Canadian Press report was first published on August 17, 2021.
_With files by Bob Webber