Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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

Some experts have expressed worry over the lack of information about the nature of the investigation

The Liberal government is scrambling to reassure Canadians that the COVID-19 vaccination campaign will not be hurt by Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin’s sudden departure, but are remaining tight-lipped over why he has been sidelined and who will replace him.

The Department of National Defence issued a terse three-line statement on Friday evening that Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin was leaving his role as head of the government’s vaccine distribution efforts because of an unspecified “military investigation.”

Some experts have expressed worry over the lack of information about the nature of the investigation given the importance of Fortin’s role and recent concerns about a lack of transparency and accountability from the military.

They have also questioned why it is taking so long for the government to identify a replacement to take over leadership of the vaccination rollout.

The Canadian Press has confirmed via a source who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly that the investigation relates to an allegation of sexual misconduct.

CTV News reported on Sunday that Fortin is being investigated for having allegedly exposed himself to a woman while he was an officer cadet at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, Que., in 1989.

Fortin declined to comment in an email to The Canadian Press and CTV quoted his lawyer as saying the general “completely denies” any wrongdoing.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole on Monday called on the government to provide Canadians with more information, and suggested its failure to do so represented a threat to public confidence in the military and the vaccine campaign.

“Justin Trudeau must be transparent with Canadians, who deserve confidence in our system, and that starts with providing information,” O’Toole said in a statement.

“The government released a statement late Friday announcing that Maj.-Gen. Fortin would no longer be in charge of the vaccine rollout while an investigation was ongoing, but have yet to confirm the nature of the investigation.”

O’Toole also demanded the government announce who will be taking over from Fortin, who was appointed to the Public Health Agency of Canada in November to manage the vaccination campaign after overseeing the NATO training mission in Iraq.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a brief public appearance on Monday to announce federal funding for the hiring of auditors for home-energy retrofits, but he did not stick around to take any questions.

It instead fell to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough to answer questions about Fortin’s removal and what it would mean for the vaccination campaign.

The ministers played down any significant impact on the campaign, suggesting it is well underway and that other Canadian Armed Forces members are continuing to play an important role in the effort.

But both remained otherwise mum on the nature of the investigation, when the government first learned about it, and who will be tapped to replace Fortin.

“I don’t have the exact name details of the individual that will be replacing, either in the interim or permanently, Maj.-Gen. Fortin,” Qualtrough said.

“But the mission is ongoing. We keep delivering, we are keeping the operation going … so ultimately, at the end of the day, Canadians get the vaccines that we have to deliver to them.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Canadian Armed ForcesCoronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

A Category 3 fire ban will go into effect across the entire Cariboo Fire Centre beginning noon on Monday, June 21. (Pixaby photo)
Category 3 fire ban extends across entire Cariboo Fire Centre June 21

Campfires are still permitted, but no larger than half a metre high by half a metre wide

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation planning ground analysis of land near former residential school

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

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

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read