Dany Fortin sues federal government, Trudeau for $6M
Major General. Senior military officer Danny Fortin, who was acquitted of sexual assault charges late last year, has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the Canadian government.
Fortin, who was removed as the lead of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine program in early 2021, noted: 16 dignitaries in broad suitsincluding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chief of Defense Staff General Wayne Eyre, former Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and former Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, accuses the officials of “reprehensible, extreme, egregious and high-handed” behavior and seeks $5 million in general damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
The document states that Fortin suffered damages due to defamation and abuse in public office. It also accuses the officials of negligent investigation, improper disclosure of private facts, breach of trust and conspiracy to cause harm.
“He was not given due process,” attorney Thomas Conway said in an interview.
“It has caused him the kind of grief that you would expect anyone to go through when faced with the kind of allegations that he has had to face publicly.”
Fortin was removed as the government’s chief of staff to implement a vaccine against COVID-19 in May 2021, pending an investigation into a historic allegation stemming from his time at the military college in 1988.
He was charged with sexual assault in August 2021 and acquitted in December last year.
The lawsuit alleges that the investigation was conducted with gross negligence and that there was never a basis for criminal prosecution. It accuses officials of removing him from a prominent role in the vaccine for political reasons.
“There is a certain, I would say, chill that has come over the Canadian Armed Forces with all these allegations of sexual harassment,” Conway said.
“And we are not trying to trivialize this issue in any way. No way. It is a serious problem. But unfortunately, everyone seems to have thrown out the idea that anyone has a right to a fair trial.”
He added that despite Fortin’s acquittal, his reputation was tarnished.
“That stain, that damage, is not something that will ever be removed until he makes restitution for what happened in the courts through civil redress,” Conway said.
The military officially cleared Fortin of wrongdoing on a balance of probabilities and said it would reassign him to a new role. But the lawsuit alleges that the Canadian Armed Forces are either refusing or unreasonably delaying his reintegration.
The Canadian Armed Forces and the Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Asked whether Fortin followed up with the government before filing the suit, Conway said only that Fortin was not interested in an extended lawsuit with his former colleagues and an institution he served for more than 30 years.
“Trust me, that’s the last thing he wanted to do.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 15, 2023.
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