The Acting Secretary of Defense’s notes show weeks of heated discussions on how to deal with Fortin’s allegations
Handwritten notes from the Canadian Acting Chief of Defense Staff in front of the Major General. Dany Fortin was removed from his position as the country’s head of vaccine promotion, which shows that senior government officials and military officials had heated discussions for weeks on how to deal with situations that caused “anxiety” throughout the government. .
A lot of edited notes made by Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre was one of more than 100 pages of documents submitted by the federal government to the Federal Court and Fortin’s legal team on Friday evening, including Eyre’s notebooks, emails, and internal communications.
Al’s notes began in mid-March, when he learned of the allegations of sexual misconduct against Fortin, which lasted until mid-May, when the government publicly announced that Fortin was facing an investigation and would step down. These notes indicate that the Canadian military’s acting chief believes that it is an “impossible situation” to deal with these allegations.
“If we can’t follow our values, when will I resign?” Eyre wrote in mid-March a few days after the allegations against Fortin were first exposed.
Al wrote down “DM”-which usually means deputy minister in bureaucratic terms-and referred to “political pressure” and the “possible downfall” of the government, although the context of these remarks is unclear.
Fortin is challenging the government’s decision to publicly terminate his secondment to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in May. According to the initial court application of Fortin’s lawyer, the government learned that the National Bureau of Investigation of the Canadian Army is investigating Fortin’s allegations of sexual misconduct, which allegedly occurred more than 30 years ago.
The case has been transferred to the Quebec Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether to file criminal charges against Fortin.
“Response” from the Minister of Health
Fortin’s legal team argued that the federal government’s decision to publicly announce that he would leave his post in the public health agency was affected by political pressure and the personal interests of the Minister of Health, the Secretary of Defense, and the Prime Minister.
In his notes, Al mentioned that the clerk of the Privy Council had four conversations with the Minister of Health Patty Hajdu and pointed out that “Min H is quarantining/protecting himself”. Another note reads “Min H…reaction-protect yourself”, and she “does not want to create a narrative.” According to the notes, it also said that she “understood” the complainant’s “point of view”.
In a statement to CBC News on Friday, Hajdu’s office stated that the minister had never directly discussed this issue with Eyre, but did not deny meeting with the secretary of the Privy Council.
When asked by CBC News that she didn’t want to create a “narrative”, her office stated that she wanted to make Fortin’s reasons for leaving during the launch of the vaccine in Canada be transparent.
Hajdu’s office wrote in a statement: “The Minister has always emphasized the need to be transparent to Canadians in order to maintain their confidence in this process and provide the media with the reasons for this change in the Canadian vaccine distribution business.” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news.
In mid-March, just a few days after the allegations surfaced, Al wrote in his notebook a number of options for dealing with Fortin’s situation, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Al wrote that the first option was to let Fortin leave his position at PHAC, but this was accompanied by political and institutional risks. Al wrote that the second is to remove Fortin, which looks like the military is in control, but the agency will be harmed in the process. Eyre wrote that the third option is for Fortin to stand aside, but it seems passive.
Throughout the notebook, you can also see government officials and ministers expressing concerns about workplace safety, support for complainants, and Fortin’s due process.
The notes indicate that Al had talked with Fortin at least twice, including a welfare check, and heard that Fortin was “destroyed” and “shocked.”
“Still can’t understand what this is about,” Al wrote down what Fortin had told him.
Note that Fortin “persisted on continuing to work” and received the support of his wife.
The Privy Council Office expressed concern about being able to “ensure the public’s confidence in the launch of the vaccine” and “a high degree of anxiety”.
Fortin’s lawyer Natalia Rodriguez said the handwritten notes confirmed the series of events that Fortin outlined in his own affidavit.
Rodriguez wrote in a statement to CBC News: “It is clear from the documents disclosed today that policymakers are more concerned with Major General Fortin’s political prospects, rather than ensuring that a fair process is protected from politics. Intervene.”
Rodriguez also accused the government of “refusal” to release other documents related to the decision, making it opaque. The documents submitted to the court on Friday did not include the notes of the minister’s office or the secretary of the Privy Council.
Al’s notes show that Secretary of Defense Harjit Sajjan questioned how the military handles non-criminal historical allegations and stated that a roundtable meeting with experts is needed to develop a process. The note stated that Sajjan also questioned what the complainant wanted and added that due process must go its course.
Al’s notes stated that the complainant, who did not want to be named, reached out to him in a historical case “not rape”, and she hoped to “get due process through justice.”
“Send me a letter and want to meet,” Al’s notes said. “I don’t want a public landscape… I want to use her experience to make CAF better. Trust me.”
An email in the court file shows that Al later contacted a colleague on May 14, stating that he learned that a reporter had contacted the plaintiff in the case through her personal mobile phone.
The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that it will not comment on the content of the newly released documents.
DND spokesperson Dan Lebouthillier wrote: “As this matter is being heard through the judicial system, it is not appropriate to comment at this time.”
Sajjan’s office said on Friday that as the matter is being heard in court, “it is not appropriate to comment at this time”.
Prothonotary Mandy Aylen agreed to expedite the trial of the case. Fortin’s legal team hopes to hear the case before his secondment to PHAC expires on October 31.
The two-day federal court hearing is scheduled for September 28th and 29th.