Politics

Dany Fortin says his 'career appears to be over' after his removal from vaccine campaign

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says his career "appears to be over" after he was abruptly removed from his role overseeing Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout because of a decades-old allegation of sexual misconduct.

Fortin says the decision to remove him from the campaign did not respect due process

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin responds to a question on COVID vaccines during a news conference on January 14, 2021 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The military officer who previously oversaw Canada's vaccine rollout campaign says his reputation has been "irreparably tarnished" by the government's decision to abruptly replace him in May and publicly reveal he was being investigated for sexual misconduct.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin's assertion is contained in an affidavit sworn last week but only publicly revealed on Thursday as part of his legal battle to reverse his dismissal from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which he alleges was improper and politically motivated.

Fortin was removed from the vaccine rollout on May 14, just five days before the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service referred a sexual misconduct investigation to the Quebec prosecution service to determine whether criminal charges should be laid.

Through his lawyers, Fortin has denied any wrongdoing.

Fortin's lawyers filed an application last month with the Federal Court seeking an expedited judicial review of the decision to fire him from his posting at PHAC, asking for the decision be quashed and for his reinstatement at the agency or another position.

In the affidavit sworn on July 13, Fortin says the impact on his "reputation and career" of the decision to remove him and reveal the misconduct investigation "has been devastating."

Fortin says he received an exemplary performance review only three days before he was removed from the vaccine campaign and was "at the peak" of his career, with expectations of a promotion or other opportunity upon finishing his job with PHAC.

However, he says, due to the decision to remove him, "I have no assignment, although I remain a member of the CAF. As far as I know, I am not being considered for any positions and I appear to have been bypassed for promotion. Currently, my career appears to be over."

Fortin also took issue with the government's decision to reveal the investigation into his conduct.

"The reputation I have built up over the course of three decades of service to my country has been irreparably tarnished by the decision to announce publicly an investigation into my alleged conduct, exacerbated by the fact that the announcement lacked the context that the investigation relates to a single allegation of misconduct dating back over 30 years," the affidavit says.

Fortin's lawyer Natalia Rodriguez said the affidavit has been sworn and served to Attorney General David Lametti, but will not be filed in court until September.

"We are providing it to you ahead of schedule in the interests of openness and transparency," she said in an email. "We understand there is significant public interest in this case and we want to provide the public with as much information as we can with respect to the issues raised in this application."

Asked to comment Thursday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's spokesperson Daniel Minden said: "As this is an ongoing legal matter, it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time."

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