Friday, July 23, 2021

Political interference in the career management of a Canadian general

 The daily National Post reports today that earlier this year Major-General Dany Fortin received glowing and rave evaluation reports from the acting Chief of the Defence Staff[ (CDS) for his performance since November 2020 as the Vice-President of Logistics and Operations of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) during which he led the vaccine roll-out  and the rest of the government’s response to COVID-19 across Canada.

This caused a strong adverse reaction from Canada’s two opposition political parties because the acting CDS, Lieutenant General Wayne Eyre would have known by then that MGen Fortin was under investigation by the military Police. News Democratic Party of Canada’s Defence Critic is quoted as saying as follows:

It’s a concern that if he did know about it, and he still wrote that kind of recommendation, then it’s another example of the failure to take things seriously” in Canada’s military when it comes to allegations of sexual misconduct.

This writer challenged this unfair criticism. My comments are below. First, for a bit of a background on MGen Fortin


MGen Fortin is a 30-year veteran. He recently led NATO’s Training Mission in Iraq and previously led Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. He also previously  served  on a two-year assignment (2015-2017) as the Deputy Commanding General of I Corps DCG-0 at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord stationed in the State of Washington.  A rising star!

On May 14, 2021,  MGen Fortin was suddenly removed from the performance of his military duty with the PHAC, on the orders of his political masters: the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Health pending the results of a military police investigation. 

MGen Fortin first learned of the specific of the allegations against him only on  May 16, 2021. This information was provided by a news reporter. This took him completely by surprise.  Hevigorously and categorically denies the allegations.  

According to the same news media sources, the incident being investigated dates back to 1989 when Fortin would allegedly have exposed himself to a woman while he was a student at the Royal Military College at St-Jean-sur-le-Richelieu, Quebec. The identify of the complainant has not been made public. 

On May 19, the military police referred the matter  to the Province of Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions for review. and possible prosecution before a civil court (presumably because on the date of the alleged offence, the Canadian military did NOT have jurisdiction to prosecute 'sexual assault'. 

On June 14, 2021, MGen Fortin filed and Application for Judicial Review before the Federal Court of Canada asking that the decision to remove him from his military duties with the PHAC be judicially reviewed. In his application, he pleaded that the decision to remove him was made for a political purpose and that he was denied procedural fairness.  

The decision was arbitrary, not in the public interest and made solely for the personal and political gain of the Ministers of Health and National Defence and the Prime Minister.

Since the termination of his secondment to PCAC, MGen Fortin has been without assignment and has been relieved from the performance of a military duty.


The National Post article published today cites this writer as follows:

  • Operating under the accepted constitutional principle that one is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, it makes a lot of good sense for the acting CDS, LGen Wayne Eyre to have assessed MGen Fortin’s previous year on-job performance to his true and well-earned value.
  • To do otherwise, would mean that LGen Eyre would have acted, at that moment, as judge and jury in the affair. The CDS  acted most properly by giving due recognition to Maj Gen Fortin’s potential  for further advancement and letting justice run its course. To have acted any other way would have been improper, unjust, unfair and contrary to procedural fairness.” 
  • It clearly was the politicians not the military command that decided on MGen Fortin’s future. And this is most preoccupying. We have sacrificed the career of an otherwise outstanding military officer to satisfy the perceived political interests of the moment. It is Canada’s loss


As acting CDS, LGen Eyre is currently lacking in power, stature and authority to  face, contest and resist political interference with his onerous  responsibilities while facing one of worst possible crisis ever facing the Canadian military. .

This is most troublesome and concerning.

Under current climate at National Defence Headquarters (Pentagon North), the acting CDS’s power, authority and influence is therefore considerably reduced.  

From all accounts, Maj Gen Fortin is being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. That is too bad for him, the armed forces and Canada.

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