Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie to replace Fortin on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Click to play video: 'Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie named Canada’s vaccine czar as Maj.-Gen. Fortin investigated'
Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie named Canada’s vaccine czar as Maj.-Gen. Fortin investigated
WATCH: Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie is now in charge of Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, after Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin stepped aside while the military investigates a sexual misconduct allegation against him. Abigail Bimman reports on what's known so far about the accusation – May 17, 2021

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie will take over as the general in charge of overseeing the delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across Canada.

In a statement released Monday evening, PHAC president Iain Stewart said Brodie will assume the role of vice-president of vaccine logistics and operations “effective immediately.”

The news comes just days after the Department of National Defence announced Maj.-Gen Dany Fortin would be stepping down from the post.

The department announced Fortin’s departure on Friday, but did not release a reason other than a brief mention of a “military investigation.”

Click to play video: 'Maj.-Gen. Fortin steps aside pending military investigation'
Maj.-Gen. Fortin steps aside pending military investigation

However, Global News has confirmed that the investigation relates to an allegation of sexual misconduct, and that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is handling the probe.

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In a statement emailed to Global News Monday afternoon, Fortin’s lawyer Cmdr. Mark Létourneau, said Fortin “vigorously and categorically denies this allegation.”

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Létourneau, who works for the military’s Defence Counsel Services, said Fortin had no idea what the allegation was against him until a journalist asked him about it on Sunday.

He said Fortin has not been informed of any charge against him and the details of the allegation came to him from a CTV journalist on Sunday.

The CTV report cited sources who described the allegation as a formal complaint about a “historical sexual assault” that allegedly took place in early 1989 when Fortin was a student at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean. Fortin is alleged to have exposed himself before a woman.

Létourneau  said the allegation took Fortin “completely by surprise.”

Click to play video: 'Military probe won’t hurt Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout: ministers'
Military probe won’t hurt Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout: ministers

In his statement Monday, Stewart said Brodie has “played a pivotal role in the vaccine rollout as part of the initial deployment to the Agency in November.”

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“Following a brief return to the Canadian Armed Forces in February as the Commander of Military Personnel Generation Group, Brigadier-General Brodie’s appointment allows for a seamless transition as she resumes her leadership role with PHAC,” the statement read.

A biography posted to the PHAC website says Brodie joined the CAF in 1989 and has commanded platoons, a company and a battalion.

She has also commanded a Formation in the Canadian Joint Operations Command, according to PHAC.

Brodie has been deployed to Croatia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, and has served with both NATO and the United Nations.

Earlier on Tuesday, Canada’s Employment Minister assured Canadians that the investigation “won’t have any impact” on the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) ability to deliver vaccines.

“CAF members are experts in logistics and operations and when someone steps aside there have been people waiting and training in order to move forward and keep the mission going,” Carla Qualtrough told a press conference.

She said she has “every confidence” that Canadians “will not feel any impact in terms of vaccine rollout.”

Click to play video: 'Breaking down allegations of misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces after military head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout steps aside'
Breaking down allegations of misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces after military head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout steps aside

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan echoed Qualtrough’s remarks, saying the CAF are “extraordinarily good at organizing and laying out something like this.”

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“I have every confidence that they have the operations and the operational teams in place to make sure that this vaccine rollout is not affected,” he said.

— With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly, Abigail Bimman and Marc-Andre Cossette and The Canadian Press

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