The wife of a man who claimed to be a decorated soldier during a Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa says she and her husband feel trapped and have been receiving death threats since CBC News wrote about him on Wednesday.
Speaking in French on the doorstep of her home in west Quebec Thursday, the woman told CBC News repeatedly that she couldn't comment on Franck Gervais's uniform or why he was wearing it at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Tuesday.
Asked if a reporter could speak to Gervais directly, his wife said he wasn't speaking to CBC at the moment.
Ottawa police announced Thursday that they've launched an official investigation into Gervais, following "multiple complaints" from the public.
The Department of National Defence on Wednesday confirmed that Gervais, who represented himself as a decorated soldier on Tuesday, is not a member of the Canadian Forces.
Gervais suspended with pay, boss says
Gervais has worked at Potvin Construction for 12 years, most recently building wooden staircases, said the company's general manager, Martin Savard, on Thursday. He said Gervais had told fellow employees he used to be in the military.
"He basically told us that he used to be a member of the military," Savard said.
Savard said he was shocked when he arrived at work Thursday morning and discovered through colleagues that Gervais was in the news.
"I'm shocked, definitely shocked," Savard said. "It's not something you expect, either from your own employee or from anybody. I mean, you have to pay respect with people who went to war and earned those medals. So definitely, Potvin Construction does not agree with that type of behaviour.
On Friday Savard said he has suspended Franck Gervais with pay and contacted the company's lawyer.
The company issued a statement saying "we have been made aware of the situation regarding one of our employees and are currently gathering information following this regrettable incident."
A number of veterans and current soldiers complained after seeing Gervais being interviewed on CBC's special live broadcast of the Remembrance Day ceremony.
Section 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it illegal to falsely impersonate a member of the Canadian Forces by wearing a uniform and displaying badges, medals, ribbons, chevrons and other decorations they did not earn in service performed in war.
"Such activities are a disservice to the proud men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, who earn the right to wear their uniforms through their hard work and the sacrifices they make for our country," a spokesperson for the Defence Department said in a statement Wednesday.
No charges have been laid against Gervais.
Gervais was interviewed while wearing an army dress uniform with sergeant's chevrons and the cap badge of the Royal Canadian Regiment. He was sporting the maroon beret reserved for soldiers who are active-duty paratroopers, as well as an active paratrooper's jump wings on his chest.
One piece of insignia Gervais wore that immediately caught the eye of many soldiers was his Patrol Pathfinder badge. That is only worn by paratroopers who pass a gruelling course intended to recreate the experience of being dropped behind enemy lines — a course with a failure rate of up to 90 per cent.
But what has most irked soldiers and veterans were his five medals, particularly the Medal of Bravery, one of the highest decorations in the Canadian Forces, which has been awarded to a select few soldiers in recent years for bravery in hazardous circumstances.
A Facebook post, which has since been taken down, showed Gervais wearing a similar uniform at his wedding earlier this year.