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A judge has acquitted Major-General Dany Fortin, who once led Canada’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, of sexual assault over an allegation that dates back to 1988.

On Monday, Quebec judge Richard Meredith found Maj.-Gen. Fortin not guilty of one count of sexual assault, saying he was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Maj.-Gen. Fortin was the culprit.

The proceedings were held in Gatineau, across the Ottawa River, from the nation’s capital.

Outside the court, Mr. Fortin thanked his family and supporters for believing in him.

“I am so relieved by the judge’s decision today,” he told journalists. “As you would expect, this is a huge burden off our shoulders, my shoulders.”

But Maj.-Gen. Fortin said he now wants to recover his reputation, noting that he and his lawyers will consider next steps with a federal court of appeal hearing regarding his removal from his COVID leadership role. “From the start, senior military leaders and political decision makers presumed and acted as if I was guilty. I was denied due process, and information about my case was mishandled and leaked.”

He said his career has been irreparably harmed, and impacted his family, and that he has not been gainfully employed in the Canadian Armed Forces since May, 2021.

The allegation stemmed from Mr. Fortin’s time at the military college in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., which the complainant also attended.

The complainant in the case told the court that she is certain “without a doubt” that the perpetrator was Fortin, and her lawyer said she brought the incident to light in 2021, after she retired, due to a fear of career repercussions.

During his statement, Maj.-Gen. Fortin said the complainant genuinely believed she was assaulted, and that victims of assault deserve support.

His lawyer cited inconsistencies between the complainant’s testimony and her previous statements to investigators last year, including details of the incident.

A key point for the defence was that while the complainant said she told her ex-boyfriend about the incident right afterward, he told the court that he had no memory of such a conversation.

Maj.-Gen. Fortin was the military officer in charge of the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout until May 2021, when he was removed after the allegation came to light.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

ONTARIO CUPE EDUCATION WORKERS BACK CONTRACT - The Canadian Union of Public Employees says its Ontario education workers have voted to ratify a contract with the government. Story here. There’s an explainer here on how CUPE and Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s labour feud played out.

TRUDEAU AND FORD MARK ELECTRIC-VEHICLE MILESTONE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford marked a Canadian milestone Monday, celebrating the launch of the country’s first full-scale electric-vehicle manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, Ont. Story here from CityNews.

HAITIAN ELITES TARGETED BY MORE CANADIAN SANCTIONS - Canada is imposing more sanctions on Haitian elites that it accuses of empowering gangs in the Caribbean country. The new sanctions freeze Canadian assets held by three of the country’s wealthiest people. Story here.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT KEEPING AN EYE ON ALBERTA LEGISLATION: LEBLANC - Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the federal government is taking a wait-and-see approach to whether it may intervene when it comes to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s sovereignty act, but that it is not the focus at the moment. Story here from CTV.

HOPES THAT COP15 HIGHLIGHTS INDIGENOUS-LED CONSERVATON - Indigenous leaders are hoping COP15 will be an opportunity to showcase how Indigenous-led conservation can be at the heart of a new global biodiversity agreement. Story here.

FOSSIL-FUEL-PLANT POLICY CREATES TEST FOR B.C. PREMIER - British Columbia’s new Premier says the province cannot continue to expand fossil-fuel infrastructure and also hit climate goals. But saying no to new fossil-fuel infrastructure means smothering a steadily growing sector of the provincial economy – growth that B.C.’s NDP government had nurtured for the five years before David Eby became its leader. Story here.

PRICE RAISES FIREARM-POLICY CONCERNS - Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price has taken a stand against a proposed amendment to Ottawa’s controversial Bill C-21 that would further restrict access to certain firearms in Canada. Story here from CTV.

CANADIAN-MADE PARTS IN RUSSIAN DRONES DEPLOYED IN UKRAINE - An investigative project by a Kyiv think tank has identified Canadian-made parts in one type of attack drone used by Russia in its military assault on Ukraine. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Dec. 05, accessible here.

DAYS SINCE CONSERVATIVE LEADER PIERRE POILIEVRE TOOK MEDIA QUESTIONS IN OTTAWA: 83

REGAN RULINGS TO BE CELEBRATED - Former Commons speaker Geoff Regan was scheduled to be in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon for the release of a collection of selected rulings he made while speaker from 2015 to 2019. Decisions were chosen by a team of procedural experts working under the leadership of Commons Clerk Charles Robert. They were looking for decisions that charted new procedural ground, or were expected to be precedents consulted by future speakers. According to Amélie Crosson, communications manager for the Office of the Speaker and the House of Commons, this kind of greatest-hits effort involving Commons speakers has been a tradition for almost four decades. The roster is available here.

NEW CANADIAN MUSEUM OF HISTORY CEO - Caroline Dromaguet has been appointed CEO of the Canadian Museum of History, which also operates the Canadian War Museum and the Virtual Museum of New France. Ms. Dromaguet is currently interim CEO of the Museum of History and War Museum.

BIG-CITY MAYORS MEETING IN OTTAWA - The Big City Mayors’ Caucus, representing Canada’s 23 biggest cities, was meeting in Ottawa on Monday for talks an advisory said would include a focus on housing, infrastructure and climate adaptation. The caucus had scheduled a news conference with chair Mike Savage, the mayor of Halifax, and Gatineau Mayor France Bélisle.

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Defence Minister Anita Anand, in Esquimalt, British Columbia, welcomed home His Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Vancouver and Winnipeg as they returned to their home port of Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, after successfully completing their deployments in the Indo-Pacific region since early August. Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne returns to Canada on Tuesday after a seven-day visit to Belgium and Germany. Seniors Minister Kamal Khera, in Saskatoon, was scheduled to make a funding announcement on community-based projects for seniors. International Trade Minister Mary Ng is in Japan through to Thursday to participate in the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada’s second Women-Only Trade Mission to Japan, and to meet with business leaders and senior Japanese officials. International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan, in Vancouver, announced $25-million in federal infrastructure support for the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ingersoll, Ont., was scheduled to hold private meetings and, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, mark a milestone in manufacturing electric vehicles in Canada and hold a media availability. In Ottawa, Mr. Trudeau was scheduled to attend a candle-lighting ceremony in celebration of Hanukkah, and deliver brief remarks.

LEADERS

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was scheduled to canvass, in Mississauga-Lakeshore, with Julia Kole, the NDP candidate in the Dec. 12 by-election in that riding, and also attend the National Festival of Lights 2022.

No schedules released for party leaders.

THE DECIBEL

Monday’ edition of The Globe and Mail podcast features lawyer Jean Teillet who was commissioned by the University of Saskatchewan to write a report about the issue of Indigenous identity fraud and to determine how postsecondary institutions can identify fraudulent applicants. The Decibel is here.

PUBLIC OPINION

The federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to end last winter’s protracted anti-government, anti-vaccine-mandate protests is largely supported by Canadians, according to a new poll. Story here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how, in Canada, people can die with dignity, but should be able to live that way, too: “It is all too easy to imagine that some people suffering from severe long-term mental illnesses, especially those with limited financial resources, will resort to MAID in part because of their despair over a lack of adequate health care and social services. That is not to say that their illness alone wouldn’t meet the conditions required for an assisted death. We should respect their wish to die with dignity. But we should be ashamed of a country that is failing to help them live the same way.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on four insights from the latest jobs report that could affect Tiff Macklem’s interest-rate decision this week:As Mr. Macklem and his colleagues deliberate over Wednesday’s interest-rate decision – widely seen as a choice between another oversized, half-point hike and a smaller, quarter-point increase – some key details in the employment data will demand their attention. Many of those numbers point to a substantial slowing of the labour market. But one notable figure continues to send warnings about inflation pressures.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s sovereignty act being a silly political dare written in crayon: Don’t you hate it when you sit down to write your signature piece of legislation and you accidentally give your cabinet the power to unilaterally rewrite laws, bypassing the legislative assembly? The other day I accidentally wrote down “2 p.m.” instead of “1 p.m.” for an upcoming appointment, so I have some sympathy for Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who must have had a similarly absent-minded moment when she forgot that she was supposed to be a libertarian and introduced Bill 1, the Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act, granting herself and her cabinet sweeping, undemocratic closed-door powers. That’s why Ms. Smith was on cleanup duty late last week and into the weekend, as she attempted to clarify that her extremely serious, very well considered piece of legislation wasn’t supposed to give members of cabinet the powers it expressly gave them under Section 4 of her bill.”

Keith Gerein (The Edmonton Journal) on how Ottawa’s LRT debacle may hold lessons for Edmonton: While Edmontonians have heard a lot of comparisons between our city and Calgary over the years, I’d argue there is another city in Canada with which we actually have more in common right now. Among other similarities, Edmonton and Ottawa are both government towns, have nearly the same population and host lousy CFL football teams. They are also both home to highly troubled, hugely expensive LRT projects that were built through a public-private partnership, or P3. A public inquiry was just completed this week on the LRT debacle in the nation’s capital, and it is entirely feasible that a similar process may need to be held in Alberta’s capital if our own fiasco keeps going the way it has.”

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