A senior member of the Canadian Armed Forces was quietly faraway from his position in Canada’s vaccine rollout final month in response to a criticism that he had used racist language in a office setting, CBC Information has discovered.
Brig.-Gen. Simon Bernard left his position on the Public Well being Company of Canada on Might 17 — simply three days after Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin left his put up main Canada’s vaccine logistics.
Sources inform CBC Information that Bernard is accused of utilizing the N-word in a office setting someday in 2020, earlier than his secondment to the general public well being company. The criticism was made just lately, whereas Bernard was Fortin’s second-in-command in vaccine and logistics planning. Bernard was appointed to that put up in November.
In a media assertion, the Division of Nationwide Defence (DND) confirmed that Bernard was the topic of “a criticism concerning language” and the armed forces is “working in the direction of figuring out information and subsequent steps.”
“With the intention to protect the integrity of the hassle, we is not going to be disclosing the character of the criticism,” mentioned Daniel Le Bouthillier, DND head of media relations.
CBC Information reached out to Bernard by e-mail; Le Bouthillier mentioned Bernard is not going to be commenting presently.
The general public well being company and authorities departments referred all inquiries to DND.
Bernard’s departure from the vaccine rollout mission got here on the request of public well being officers. It was a part of a collection of occasions prompted by Fortin’s removing from the vaccine mission over an allegation of sexual misconduct.
Fortin’s former lawyer Cdr. Marc Létourneau has mentioned his consumer denies that allegation.
Fortin’s departure was introduced in a terse, three-line assertion issued late within the day on Might 14. His removing meant the vaccine mission misplaced an skilled soldier and powerful communicator simply because the rollout was hitting a important level.
It left the federal government looking for an satisfactory alternative. As Fortin’s quantity two, Bernard was a main candidate.
However within the days after Fortin’s departure, authorities officers discovered that Bernard himself was beneath investigation and he was faraway from consideration.
As a substitute, Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie was named as Fortin’s successor on Might 17. That very same day, public well being officers — having discovered of the character of the allegation in opposition to Bernard — ended his secondment at PHAC and despatched him again to the Canadian Armed Forces.
“A call was made to return him to the CAF early,” Le Bouthillier mentioned in a media assertion. “He has since been on annual go away and, upon his return, will likely be assigned to a place which stays to be decided.”
‘We … all must do higher’: Tam
Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public well being officer, mentioned that whereas she is aware of nothing in regards to the particular incident, workplaces must be each protected and respectful of workers.
“There is no such thing as a place, after all, for racism and stigma and discrimination in a office or in our society. It should not be tolerated,” she mentioned at the moment. “Racism is in many various programs, whether or not it is the well being system or different programs of society, and we, after all, all must do higher.”
Brodie mentioned at the moment she was unable to touch upon the report however assured reporters that ongoing disciplinary measures wouldn’t have an effect on Canada’s vaccine logistics.
“We’re very centered on the workforce right here on the Public Well being Company to make sure that we distribute vaccines as shortly, as safely, as effectively as we are able to, in a matter that is honest and equitable to all,” she mentioned.
Watch: Brig.-Gen. Brodie, Tam reply to questions on removing of senior soldier from vaccine rollout mission: