Brigadier-General Krista Brodie will take over as Canada’s head of vaccine distribution effective immediately, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said Monday.
The appointment to the role of Vice President of Vaccine Logistics and Operations comes following Major General Dany Fortin’s sudden departure from the position on Friday.
“Brigadier-General Brodie has played a pivotal role in the vaccine rollout as part of the initial deployment to the Agency in November,” PHAC said in a release. “Following a brief return to the Canadian Armed Forces in February as the Commander of Military Personnel Generation Group, Brigadier-General Brodie’s appointment allows for a seamless transition as she resumes her leadership role with PHAC.”
The Liberal government has not released any significant details regarding why Fortin left the role, with the Department of National Defence only issuing a short statement saying he was leaving because of an unspecified “military investigation.”
The Canadian Press confirmed via a source who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly that the investigation relates to an allegation of sexual misconduct.
CTV News reported on Sunday that Fortin is being investigated for having allegedly exposed himself to a woman while he was an officer cadet at the Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, Que., in 1989.
Fortin declined to comment in an email to The Canadian Press on Monday, but his military lawyer denied the general had done anything wrong.
“It is a news reporter who informed Maj.-Gen. Fortin of the allegation against him,” Cmdr. Mark Letourneau said in a statement. “This took him completely by surprise. He vigorously and categorically denies this allegation.”
Hours before Brodie’s appointment, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole called on the government to provide Canadians with more information, and suggested its failure to do so represented a threat to public confidence in the military and the vaccine campaign.
“Justin Trudeau must be transparent with Canadians, who deserve confidence in our system, and that starts with providing information,” O’Toole said in a statement.
“The government released a statement late Friday announcing that Maj.-Gen. Fortin would no longer be in charge of the vaccine rollout while an investigation was ongoing, but have yet to confirm the nature of the investigation.”
O’Toole also demanded the government announce who will be taking over from Fortin, whose appointment to manage the vaccination campaign came after he’d overseen the NATO training mission in Iraq.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a brief public appearance on Monday to announce federal funding for the hiring of auditors for home-energy retrofits, but he did not stick around to take any questions.
It instead fell to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough to answer questions about Fortin’s removal and what it would mean for the vaccination campaign.
The ministers played down any significant impact on the campaign, suggesting it is well underway and that other Canadian Armed Forces members are continuing to play an important role in the effort.
But both remained otherwise mum on the nature of the investigation, and when the government first learned about it.
“The mission is ongoing,” Qualtrough said at one point. “We keep delivering, we are keeping the operation going … so ultimately, at the end of the day, Canadians get the vaccines that we have to deliver to them.”