Canada’s Veterans Affairs Minister is calling off the hounds from threatening an alleged fake soldier following a Remembrance Day incident sparking national outrage.
"I think we should, as Canadians — I mean, even though we may be upset, offended, or otherwise ticked off, if you will — I think the appropriate response is to let the authorities investigate it," Julian Fantino said Thursday evening.
The former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner called the matter "very serious," and "particularly troubling," following recent terror attacks which killed two soldiers.
"I think there should be consequences," said Fantino.
The family of the West Quebec man accused of posing as a soldier during a Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial said earlier Thursday that they’re facing threats and harassment after being outed.
"We’re not going to respond to questions at the moment," said a woman at Franck Gervais’ Cantley home.
The woman confirmed she is Gervais’ wife, but refused to give her name.
During a live national broadcast on Nov. 11, CBC reporter Diana Swain interviewed a man, who identified himself as ‘Sgt. Franck Gervais,’ donning the uniform of a senior non-commissioned officer in the Royal Canadian Regiment.
The man wore a Governor General’s Bravery Medal.
Warrant Officer Michael Womack was watching in Alberta, and noticed too many discrepancies with the uniform.
He posted on social media saying something was fishy.
Gervais was exposed.
His wife told the Sun she understands why they’re the target of rage, but said the situation is still difficult to handle, calling it a shame.
She wouldn’t say if Gervais was authorized to wear the uniform.
Her husband was inside their small bungalow along a street just outside the village near Gatineau, about 25 km north of downtown Ottawa.
A gold Ford SUV with a "Support the Troops" sticker on the driver’s side door was parked outside.
The woman said Gervais did not want to discuss the controversy, suggested he may offer comment in a day or two.
Ottawa Police are now looking into the matter.
"The man possibly made unlawful use of military uniform or certificates at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa," the service tweeted Thursday afternoon.
In an e-mailed statement, the Department of National Defence said it has "no indication" Gervais is a member of the military.
"Impersonating a Canadian Armed Forces member is an issue to be taken seriously and is covered under section 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada," reads the statement.
"Such activities are a disservice to the proud men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, who earn the right to wear their uniforms through their hard work and the sacrifices they make for our country."
Such was the sentiment in Ottawa Thursday.
"I lost a brother in the Navy, and I used to go, with my mom, up to the Memorial every year," said Patricia Mullins.
She said she couldn’t fathom a motive for impersonating a soldier.
Fantino said he thinks people are pleased an investigation is underway.
"Without prejudging the outcome, at least we can now be assured that we will have some answers," said Fantino.
— With files from Dani-Elle Dube
MEN IN UNIFORM
- CARL DALE
Kingston: Turned in a uniform to military officials on Feb. 5, 2014, after posing for years as a Canadian military officer at events in the Kingston area.
Dale was reportedly remorseful for his actions and joining several veteran motorcycle groups under false pretenses, claiming he had served in the reserves for five years..
Dale told QMI Agency he was being harassed, bullied and threatened by someone in Ottawa last January, and was going to consult a lawyer.
- DAVID DODD
Peterborough: Dodd apologized Jan. 22, 2014 for posing as a combat veteran.
Facebook postings eventually exposed him after he commented in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) Association Facebook group.
Dodd purported he was a former Patricia, had a soldier die in his arms overseas, and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
He was photographed on numerous occasions wearing medals at local Legion events.
- FRANCK GERVAIS
Ottawa: The Cantley, Que. man was interviewed by CBC News during the 2014 Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial.
“For me, first it’s to remember what people have done for us in the past and the future,” the alleged fake soldier said, while sporting a uniform with medals.
His appearance tipped off many in the military.
The Department of National Defence confirmed Gervais isn’t with the Canadian Forces.
Ottawa Police are investigating.
*Gervais has not been charged by police and all statements are allegations*