Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin Says He Wanted to Return to Duty After Being Cleared in Trial

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin Says He Wanted to Return to Duty After Being Cleared in Trial
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin speaks to members of the media following an acquittal in his case at a Gatineau, Que., courthouse on Dec. 5, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Spencer Colby)
The Canadian Press

Retired Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says he wanted to return to duty after being acquitted in a sexual assault trial last December, but the Canadian Armed Forces didn’t want him back.

Mr. Fortin expressed concerns with the way the military handles sexual misconduct allegations, and his case in particular, in a statement posted to his LinkedIn profile on Nov. 1.

“This long ordeal has taken a toll on me and my family. My career ended overnight. My sense of abandonment by the institution is high,” he wrote.

Mr. Fortin was accused of sexual assault in early 2021 after a woman he attended military college with brought a complaint to military police. The allegation dated back to 1988.

In his post, Mr. Fortin said he was told about the investigation in March 2021 and removed from his job leading Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout program weeks later.

Mr. Fortin was charged with one count of sexual assault in August 2021 and the case went to trial in Quebec civilian court. A judge found him not guilty in December 2022.

After the military also cleared him of wrongdoing, Mr. Fortin said the Armed Forces offered him a job—and then retracted that offer to consult with stakeholders.

“A (vice chief of the defence staff)-led reintegration process followed, it was made clear there was neither desire nor intent to have me back,” he wrote.

His terms of service ended in July, and a small gathering was held at the Canadian Army Officers’ Mess in Ottawa on Oct. 27 to mark his retirement after a 38-year career.

Mr. Fortin wrote that he felt he had no choice but to start litigation because of the delay in addressing his status after the criminal case ended.

In March, he filed a $6-million lawsuit against the Canadian government and 16 high-ranking officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre, former defence minister Harjit Sajjan and former health minister Patty Hajdu.

The statement of claim accused the officials of “reprehensible, extreme, flagrant and high-handed” conduct and alleged that Mr. Fortin suffered damages due to defamation and misfeasance in public office.

The two sides reached an undisclosed settlement last month.

Defence Minister Bill Blair told reporters that he can’t respond to Mr. Fortin’s comments because of the terms of the settlement.

Mr. Fortin also raised issues with the way the military handles sexual misconduct cases.

The government ordered an external review of the Armed Forces by former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour after a string of high-profile military members, including Mr. Fortin, were accused of sexual misconduct beginning in 2021.

In her May 2022 report, Ms. Arbour made 48 recommendations calling for sweeping changes to the military’s culture and the way it deals with sexual misconduct cases.

“Allegations of misconduct need to be proactively, speedily, and thoroughly investigated: victims deserve nothing less. But the presumption of innocence is important, too, and so is due process,” Mr. Fortin said.

“While I am supportive of the many reforms underway to address the problem of military sexual misconduct, senior CAF leadership must seriously reflect about how to responsibly deal with persons wrongfully accused of misdoing.”

The Defence Department did not respond to questions on Wednesday. In response to questions about Mr. Fortin’s retirement on Tuesday, the department referred to its statement about the settlement and declined to comment.