Senior soldier returned to leadership role after investigation into alleged use of racial slur

Politics

A senior member of the Canadian Armed Forces who was removed from his role in Canada's vaccine rollout in the spring has been deemed fit to continue as a senior military leader.

Brig.-Gen. Simon Bernard is currently serving as director general of military personnel.(Network for Strategic Analysis)

A senior member of the Canadian Armed Forces who was removed from his role in Canada's vaccine rollout in the spring has been deemed fit to continue as a senior military leader.

Brig.-Gen. Simon Bernard left his role at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in May — just three days after Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin left his post leading Canada's vaccine logistics.

Sources told CBC News at the time that Bernard was accused of using a racist slur — the N-word — in a workplace setting sometime in 2020, before his secondment to the public health agency.

The Department of National Defence (DND) later confirmed that Bernard was the subject of "a complaint regarding language."

Bernard was the subject of two investigations but neither provided enough evidence to "corroborate the alleged incident," said a statement from DND.

On the advice of the military's anti-racism secretariat, "it was assessed that Maj.-Gen Bernard was fit to continue in his role as a senior leader within the Canadian Armed Force," the statement said.

The statement also said Bernard has since been promoted and is now serving as director general of military personnel.

Bernard's departure from the vaccine rollout project came at the request of public health officials. It was one in a series of events prompted by Fortin's removal from the vaccine project over an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin leaves the Gatineau Police Station after being processed in Gatineau, Que., on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.(Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Fortin stepped down as the head of the vaccine rollout task force last May, two months after an investigation was launched into a complaint of sexual misconduct against him.

In August, Fortin was charged with one count of sexual assault tied to an incident alleged to have taken place in 1988, when he was a student at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean.

He went to court to challenge the decision to remove him from his temporary role leading the vaccine rollout after the military decided to hand his case over to Quebec prosecutors.

Earlier this month, the Federal Court of Canada told Fortin that the military grievance process is the appropriate avenue to address his claim of political interference.

With files from Ashley Burke

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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