Defense Secretary’s memo reveals due process, optical debate on Fortin’s allegations

Vancouver — An extraordinary handwritten memo by Canada’s Deputy Defense Secretary reveals a behind-the-scenes struggle between due process, political optics, and support for plaintiffs after allegations of sexual misconduct against the Major General have surfaced. And it seems. Danny Fortin.

A heavily edited document of over 100 pages, including notes written primarily in bulleted format by Lt.-Gen. An internal email exchange between Wayne Air and top military executives has been submitted to federal court. Communication is between mid-March and mid-May.

The note begins with a March 16 entry under the heading CFPM and clearly refers to the Canadian Armed Forces Provost Marshal, an adviser to the Secretary of Defense on police issues. “Please tell us about your (no details) (historical) allegations against (senior members).”

Fortin was responsible for deploying the COVID-19 vaccine in Canada on May 14, five days before the Canadian Armed Forces National Investigation Agency referred to the Quebec Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether to prosecute. Was removed from the position as.

Fortin denied cheating through a lawyer.

Fortin’s lawyer filed an application in federal court last month seeking a quick judicial review of the decision to dismiss him from his post at PHAC, revoking the decision and returning to agency or another position. I asked.

His lawyers said the decision to dismiss their client was unreasonable, lacked procedural fairness, and improper political interference with the military chain of command by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Health Minister Patty Haidu, and Sajan. Claimed to be accompanied by.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

On March 19, Eyre’s memo suggests that DM (Deputy Minister) is facing “political pressure”, stating that “the government may collapse.”

“What do you say to the masses?” Note says. “What do our values ​​help us to do? The rule of law, respect for due process.”

They suggest “anxiety” among the government’s top brass as authorities consider “workplace safety,” “supporting victims,” ​​and “ensuring public confidence in the deployment of vaccines.” ing.

“When do you resign if you don’t follow your values?” Eyre’s memo says under the section labeled “Thinking.”

Fortin’s lawyer, Natalia Rodriguez, said in an email that it was “clear” from the document that decision makers were more interested in the “political optics” of Fortin’s situation than ensuring a fair process. Said there is.

“They were aware that the decision to publicly dismiss the Major General had hurt their reputation. Fortin would have had it,” she said.

“Despite showing academic recognition of the impact of decisions on the Major General. Fortin’s life, nevertheless, decision makers publicly give him procedural protection. I took him away. “

Eyre’s memo on March 18 shows that Fortin was “ravaged” by allegations and his wife was “supportive.”

“I still can’t figure out what this is,” reads a note from an obvious conference call with Fortin.

Elsewhere, the notes suggest that Fortin is “shocked,” “crushed,” and “embarrassed,” and that he is “adamant” about his desire to continue working. I’m adding.

The memo in the second half of March 18 says “Suicide Mortality / SPAP”, which clearly mentions the Suicide Prevention Action Plan. The section below it has been edited.

Rodriguez said Fortin wanted to continue to carry out his mission, which he did until his removal.

“He doesn’t know the context of the notes about SPAP because there was nothing that was discussed in the meeting with (Deputy Defense President).”

The partially edited March 25 section suggests that the petitioner “wants for due process by justice” and “does not want the public sight.” The memo further suggests that the claim is “not rape” and “a very historic event.”

“I want to use her experience to improve CAF,” they say.

Under the heading “MND,” which clearly refers to Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, on March 17, Eyre wrote, “What do the victims want?”

The memo states that due process must be followed.

“Now we need to protect the institution,” they say. “We take everything seriously.”

We also propose to “immediately hold a round table meeting with experts” and “create a process for those who have come before.”

Air’s request for comment sent to the Ministry of Defense was not returned in time for publication.

A Sajjan spokesman declined to comment.

“It’s an ongoing legal issue, so it’s inappropriate to comment at this point,” said Daniel Minden.

On May 12, Eyre’s note said that “Min H” (abbreviation for Health Minister Patty Haidu) wanted to “protect”, “do not want to tell a story”, and “balance”. Suggests.

“She doesn’t talk about the investigation,” says Memo. “Understand the victim’s point of view.”

In a statement, Kaidu’s office said it had “always” spoken with the Deputy Chief of Defense Chief of Defense on the issue.

“The Minister has always emphasized the need to remain transparent to Canadians in order to maintain confidence in the process and provide the media with the reasons for this change to the vaccine distribution business in Canada.” Said.

The notes provide insight into Eyre’s thinking process for the next steps and dealing with fallout.

Under the March 19 section, marked “options” and underlined, Eyre’s notes suggest three options: “keep in place,” “remove,” and “set aside.” doing.

Leaving Fortin on the spot entails “political” and “institutional risks,” the memo said.

They suggest that taking him away would question “reputation” and cause “institutional damage.”

The military has been plagued by the problem of sexual misconduct for months. Former Secretary of Defense Jonathan Vance has been charged with obstructing justice in connection with investigating allegations of sexual misconduct against him, but Sajan has repeatedly called for opposition to resign from dealing with these issues. I faced it.

Rodriguez said the government refused to provide additional documentation on the decision from the Prime Minister’s Office.

According to Rodriguez, the hearing of the application was set up by a federal court on September 28 and 29.

“Major General. Fortin looks forward to proving his proceedings as soon as possible.”

Hina Alam