The president of the Public Health Agency of Canada says he was told there was a potential “issue” facing the general leading Canada’s vaccine distribution about eight weeks before he stepped down.
Iain Stewart says the deputy minister of defence told him in the third week of March that there was an issue facing Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin. That came less than two months after Global News first reported on allegations of high-level sexual misconduct in the Canadian Forces on Feb. 2.
But Stewart says he didn’t learn that “issue” was a sexual misconduct allegation until May 13.
Fortin stepped aside as vice-president of logistics for PHAC’s vaccine rollout the next day.
Fortin’s lawyer has said his client was unaware of the details of the allegation until a reporter contacted him on Sunday, and that Fortin categorically denies any wrongdoing.
Stewart says he began thinking about what might happen if Fortin needed to be replaced in March but didn’t discuss the matter with Health Minister Patty Hajdu until May 13.
The Canadian military is facing an institutional crisis amid allegations of high-level
sexual misconduct against multiple senior leaders. Those allegations have sparked three military police investigations into Fortin as well as Adm. Art McDonald and Gen. Jonathan Vance, and two parliamentary committee probes into the extent of sexual misconduct in the senior ranks of the military.
Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour is now leading an independent, external review aimed at identifying how best to create an independent reporting system for sexual misconduct.
That review is expected to take between 12 to 18 months.