Bev Norman watched TV at his home in the Ottawa suburb of eastern Ottawa about 5 pm. when images of Prime Minister Justin Trudo appeared on the screen.
It was April 6, 2017, and the prime minister asked questions from journalists. One of them was for Bev's wife, vice-admiral Mark Norman.
Mark Norman was in the kitchen when a bewildered Bev shouted to him. "I think the Prime Minister has talked about you.
Three months earlier, a team of RCMP officers invaded the Normon's home as part of an investigation into the alleged expiration of the Liberal government's plans to pause a supply project for a Royal Canadian Navy. The federal police believed Norman had given confidential information to shipyard Davy and a CBC journalist in an attempt to prevent the liberals from chasing the deal.
The allegations were a working RCMP theory – the attack was part of their ongoing investigation – but when the police informed Canada's largest soldier, General Staff Chief of Staff John Vance, he quickly responded to Norman from his military duties. Later it will be clear that Vance has discussed the issue with Trudo and senior advisers in the Prime Minister's office, including then Secretary-General Gerald Buttes and Head of Staff Katie Telford.
Mark entered the living room and the couple stumbled with PVR to get the news from Trudeau. "This is an important issue that is obviously being investigated and probably going to court, so I will not make any further comments at the time," the prime minister said.
For the Normans, it was a surreal moment that watched the country's leader talk about an active judicial cause, and predicted – about a year before the prosecution was made – that the naval officer was going to court. Bev became very upset. "How honest?" she asked her husband.
Norman quickly spelled out what Trudo had said and immediately called his lawyer Marie Hain to tell her what had happened.
Later that evening, Hained made a statement to journalists. Politicians should not comment on whether a case will be brought to court, she said. "I expect the prime minister to say he has refused to comment further, given that the matter is under investigation," she said.
I think the Prime Minister just talks about you
It was Hein, perhaps the most senior lawyer in the country who gave Trudo an exit if he wanted to take it.
But almost a year later, Trudo returned to him again, predicting again in a TV station in February 2018 that Norman was facing the court, even though he had not been charged yet.
Watching the TV coverage of this event, Norman could not believe what he saw. The Prime Minister not only overlooked Heinen's fine warning but also doubled.
The fact that Trudo spoke again publicly about the case, upset Bev as the couple watched, Norman kept his thoughts about himself.
But, Norman told Postmiadia in an exclusive interview: "I thought I was fucked up."
A little more than a month after Trudo's second prophecy, and two years after the start of his investigation, the CCCM ordered Norman a point of trust.
Last week, prosecutors remained with the accusation that ended the trial of Norman and his family for two and a half years. At a press conference held shortly after leaving the court on May 8, Norman said he wanted to tell the Canadians his story. "Not to blame, but to ensure that we all learn from this experience," he said.
But according to the military rules, Norman is refrained from what he can say publicly. He may face a new charge under the Canadian law system if something he says is critical of the senior military leadership or government. But in his first interview, as he was suspended from his role as Canadian No. 2 troops, Norman, his wife Bev and his daughter Holly spoke to Postmindia about their experience, however openly they had succeeded.
In the united world of Ottawa by military proffesional specialists and lobbyists, it was not much secret that the CCPK was called to investigate the outflow of confidence in the cabinet. The $ 670 million deal, in order for Ceebeck to become an Asterix merchant ship, could turn the Asterix merchant ship into a naval ship that no longer had such a ship within the previous conservative government. At a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Public Procurement in November 2015, the newly elected Liberals decided to keep the plan, a solution that was almost over. In 2016, the police traveled to the small community, interviewed military officers, government officials, and company executives, and seized recordings from two lobbyists who worked for Davey.
Secretary of the Liberal Cabinet, Scott Brison, told the police that the leakage had caused significant damage. He limited the ability of the liberals to "really do what we intended to do, and that is a deeper study," he said.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, chairman of the Cabinet Committee, told Manteys that he believes that as a result of the leak, "employee trust and security are clearly under bad reputation."
Norman assumed it was a matter of time and he was interviewed by the RCMP. He was the head of the fleet when Prime Minister Steven Harper's conservatives lit the green Asterix project. Within the government there was a series of internal battles about the plan, and Norman had fought a row behind closed doors. He was well acquainted with the internal maganess around the project. He was in contact with Davey for the Asterix conversion site and their rival, Irving Shipbuilding, who later made such a proposal to supply the navy with a ship for sourcing.
"What I have never expected for a million years is that (RCMP) will appear in my house and will execute an order," Norman said.
Without the knowledge of Norman, who was promoted to a Deputy Chief of Defense, who placed him second in Canadian forces, the mountains had already secretly monitored him and his home in preparation for the assault. By Christmas, he had become the number one suspect in the RCMP leakage investigation.
At 7:22 pm On January 9, 2017, seven policemen arrived at three vehicles in Norman's house. The Deputy Admiral went out this Monday and was about to take Bev, a veterinary assistant, to her office. The police in the Norman car and the officers with badges around the door approached Norman, who was sitting behind the wheel.
"Are you Mark Norman?" one of the officers asked. When the admiral said it was, the monks told him they had a search warrant in his home.
Norman asked if his wife could leave for work, and the police agreed. Bev, who had no idea what was going on, was so upset that she was shaking. "I had to work and think," What should I tell people? "She remembers. "I was crying, and I talked to my boss and told her what was happening and told me to go home, but I could not.
In the house, Norman was sitting in the living room under strict police supervision as the mountains roamed home, and the technicians examined the electronic devices of the Normans. At one point, Norman remembers that four officers sat around his dining room and drank coffee and laughed. The RCMP stayed for six hours and seized a desktop computer, a laptop, two mobile phones and three iPads, one of Bev's owners.
When Bev arrived at home, the Normans sat down together, trying to rework what had happened. "I was in disbelief," said Norman Norman. – There was a shock. Even at this point I said it was such a waste of time. I Really Thought (RCMP) will find project-related material and will understand that there is nothing to help them in what they are trying to do.
Then the phone rang. Officer General Officer John Wance was in line. The boss of the Canadian forces immediately wanted to see Norman.
Shortly after 18:30, Norman was introduced to Vance's office. Vance was John Forster, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of National Defense. The RCMP has already informed the two men of their accusations against Norman and informed them of the attack. After listening to RCMP earlier that day, Vance held separate meetings to familiarize political officials, including one with Defense Secretary Harjith Sajan and one with Prime Minister Staff, including Telford and Butts. Vance also had a brief phone call with Trudo to confirm that the prime minister was aware of the situation.
However, Vance told Norman that he could not discuss the details of what the CCPK had disclosed to him, except that the information was "compelling, sobering, and scary."
Forster had not recognized Norman when the naval officer entered the room. The Deputy Minister did not look up and did not get in touch with the eyes, Norman remembered, and he was spinning in his chair watching his BlackBerry. "I immediately concluded that he was the special witness of everything that would happen," Norman said. Postmedia failed to reach Forster for comment. The DND said that Forster was at the meeting because Norman, as Deputy Chief, had also reported to Vance and the Deputy Minister.
Vance handed Norman a brown envelope containing a document stating the General's intention to release his second commander from his military duties. Vance said he wanted a response from Norman within 24 hours, though later he relaxed and left a few more days.
There was not much vice-admiral to say. He had no idea what the accusations of RCMP were. All he had to go on was the half-page search warrant that the CCPK had given him when they arrived at his house this morning. He confirmed that the police received the court's approval to seek Norman's electronic devices for information about the vice admiral's contacts with Davey officials, but did not include any details of what he claimed to have done.
Before leaving Vance's office, Norman recalled, Vance warned him, "You are in the struggle of your life."
Norman does not remember much about going home tonight, but when he arrived home, Bev and their daughter Holly, then 19, were there to greet him. They later told him that he appeared to have seen a ghost.
In the days that followed, Norman met with an employment attorney, but the counsel of the lawyer was that his arrest of military duties was a fact.
It was humiliating. This was the worst thing I can imagine about my career
On Friday, January 13, Vance told Norman that he had finished his time. Admiral Ron Lloyd will be appointed Deputy Chief of Defense. Norman received a letter that officially stopped him from command. In his letter, Vans writes that he has lost confidence in Norman's ability to command, although he does not offer any explanations, and asked Norman to inform Lloyd of the upcoming weekend about the most important issues affecting the military.
Later, Vance would have guessed that when Norman stopped working, he was actually trying to help. "In this case, this meant removing him from office to be able to take care of the work he needed to take care of him," the general told reporters outside the pre-trial hearing in 2019.
On the morning of Monday, January 16, Vance distributed a letter outlining the situation of senior military officers at the Ottawa National Defense Staff. It took only 20 minutes to expire in the media.
Norman had already predicted to Vance that the news would get out quickly, but even he was surprised how quickly journalists secured a copy of the letter from the internal defense staff. (This specifically unauthorized disclosure has never been investigated.)
A few days earlier, Norman had asked Vance how he would explain the media stop. Norman said he had received no answer but a vague answer that Vance promised to know something.
With the announcement of the letter, Vance ordered to break all the information about Norman. Canadian forces refused to explain why the Deputy Admiral was removed when Norman received Vance's letter or whether Norman still served and if so, what kind of work or capacity. He also refuses to explain why he can not answer such basic questions. Later, Vance said he could not provide any information about Norman because of "privacy considerations."
Meanwhile, Vance has left the country, but the military will not tell where he's gone or why, or even when he's gone. Asked to move Norman, Trudo refused to provide details. Vance has made the decision, Trudo said, and his government fully supports the chief of defense.
Sijjan published a statement that almost resembles Trudo's speech.
The general lack of information fueled gossip in the political, defensive and media world. Some soldiers wondered if Norman's suspension was related to sexual offenses. Maybe he was a Russian spy, some have been pondering.
The news received international attention. "It was playing CNN, the BBC, it was all over the world," says Norman. He begins to receive letters from naval officers and commanders from all over the world, he said, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. "They were asking what the hell is going on and asking me if I'm fine," Norman said. – I could not answer them. I was in shock. I did not even know how to answer them. "
"It was humiliating," he added. "This was the worst thing I can imagine about my career."
After ten days of allowing speculation to pave the way for Norman's cessation, Sajan publicly announced what the government knew all the time. "This is not a matter of national security," the minister said to journalists. However, he does not provide further explanations.
Sajan refused to answer why he waited so long to make it clear that the investigation was not a matter of national security. But the defense sources confirm that the minister's answer was not intended to give Norman any relief. Sajan sent a message to the US and other Canadian allies who began asking questions about whether Norman's move was the result of a significant security breach.
Norman said the government and the military silence significantly violated his reputation. "I do not know what the hell they think or what they hope to achieve," he said.
While Sajan's answer cleared the air around speculation, he did not close the door of others. "Was she a sexual offender?" Bev asked rhetorically. – It was very disappointing.
But both Bev and Holly said they were relieved that the media did not think about such speculation, and eventually appeared through reports based on a series of defensive sources that Norman's suspension was linked to the Davy project.
The next few months were a swirl of meetings with lawyers and sleepless nights.
Norman needed legal representation. When he explained his difficulty to the first lawyer he met, his lawyer said he had a man better prepared than him, Marie Hain. Hainen became the leading lawyer in the country thanks to his successful defense of former CGC host Jian Gomesi on charges of sexual abuse. The lawyer took care of Norman to meet her and he began to travel back and forth to Toronto for counseling.
As far as possible, Bev and Mark tried to maintain a sense of normality. Bev would go to work in the veterinary clinic. Mark was beginning to help his legal team collect what they needed. At the same time, he renewed the bathroom in their house and practiced regularly.
"I did not have to be distracted," he explained. "I had to figure out how to continue living my life in the best way, despite all the things around me that I had no control of.
– We have a little motto; to live our lives as normal as we could. "
The motto of the Norman family was developed in 2003 when the naval officer, then the commander of HMCS St. John's was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It would take a year's treatment before he was authorized to go back to work.
"Аз съм оцелял от рак", каза той. – И така, когато дойде животът и падне, че на входната ви врата трябва да разберете как да се справите с това. Това (съдебно дело) е нещо подобно.
– Вие гледате по различно време. Изглеждате как измервате успеха или не измервате успеха. Вземаш го по един ден, седмица в даден момент.
Приятели и семейство предоставиха подкрепа. Норман обърна особено внимание на това, че дъщеря му Холи знае точно какво се случва.
"Инвестирах много не само за да й обясня какво се е случило, но и какво се случва, и изразих пълната си увереност, че ще бъда оправдан", каза Норман. – Но не исках да й дам пухкава. За нея си беше искрено любопитна. Тя го разбра. Тя го разбра.
Той каза на Холи да се съсредоточи върху обучението си в университета в Отава, но дори и тогава първите няколко месеца бяха стресиращи. Двамата ще имат честни разговори за случващото се. – Гордея се с това, как се справи с всичко това – каза Норман. – Тя беше истинска скала.
– В много отношения това ни накара да се приближим, но това е глупав начин да се доближим до дъщеря си.
Единственото дете, което израсна във военни бази в цялата страна, Холи се съгласи, че юридическото изпитание има един положителен резултат. – Семейството и аз сме много близки – каза тя. – Тримата имаме специална връзка, която не всички деца и родители имат. Но този опит ни доведе още по-близо. "
Другият стрес, с който се сблъскаше Норман, е нарастващата финансова тежест за неговата правна защита. Той и семейството му живееха комфортно, а заплатата му от канадските сили беше 265 000 долара. Но приемането на неограничени публично финансирани ресурси на държавните прокурори изисква пари и много от тях. Потенциалните свидетели трябваше да бъдат намерени и интервюирани. Исканията за достъп до информация трябваше да бъдат подадени, за да се опита да получи документи. Дори получаването на основни документи от правителството ще се превърне в изпитание, което само ще създаде повече работа и ще увеличи разходите.
Норман кандидатства за законовите си сметки чрез фонд, предназначен да заплати адвокатски хонорари на федералните държавни служители, които в резултат на работата си се озоваха в съда.
Той беше шокиран от отговора, който получи. Той не само беше отхвърлен за такова финансиране, но и ДНД вече беше определил, че е виновен.
В този момент Норман не беше обвинен. Източници на ДНД казаха на Постмедия, че отделът никога не е провеждал отделно разследване по делото Норман; бе приела без съмнение твърденията на RCMP. Заместник-министър Джон Форстър, който е бил с Ванс, когато е спрял офицера, е взел решението заедно със съветник от правосъдния отдел. Саджан по-късно защити решението на Форстър и добави, че той е правилният въз основа на наличната информация.
– Това, което наистина ме тревожеше, беше, че не казаха „Не“ – каза Норман. – Това беше разочароващо. Тревожната част от това беше пристрастието, което беше изрично в решението. "
За да се справи с правните си разноски, Норман извади голяма кредитна линия с обезпечението си от $ 600 000. Той взема пари от приятели и поддръжници.
Без да знае, пенсионираният полковник от армията във Ванкувър е прочел доклада на Постмедия за това, че правителството отхвърля молбата му за помощ с таксите му и решава да създаде страница на GoFundMe, за да помогне на военноморския офицер. Лий Хамънд не познаваше Норман добре, но се срещна с него, докато работеше в централата на ДНД в Отава. Бившият офицер от армията беше поразен от неравенството на индивида, изправен срещу пълната властна власт. Хамънд създаде GoFundMe с начална цел от $ 50,000. Той направи първото дарение, последвано от приноса на някои невоенни приятели. "Истинската ми цел е да дам на човека възможност да се защити и в днешното общество това означава да имаш адвокат, който да се бори за теб", обясни Хамънд. "Плащането на най-добрите правни съвети е нещо, което може да ви фалира."
С настъпването на правната битка Хамънд ще повиши целта за набиране на средства, като в крайна сметка ще привлече повече от 430 000 долара от повече от 3 500 души, като всяка стотинка е критична за финансиране на продължаващата правна защита на заместник-адмирала.
– Вечно съм благодарен на Лий – каза Норман. "Дължа му, както и хората, които са допринесли за този фонд, дълг на благодарност."
Норман е отказал да обсъди окончателния брой на съдебните му такси. Публичните доклади са заложили тази цена на 500 000 долара. Норман обаче каза, че цифрата не е точна. „Пълната стойност на това е далеч отвъд това, което е било докладвано по-рано“, каза той. – Говорим за кратно на този номер.
Правните специалисти, консултирани от Postmedia, оценяват разходите за Норман за законовите си сметки от 2017 г. над 1 млн. Долара.
На 9 март 2018 г. е повдигнато обвинението срещу Норман – единственото престъпление за нарушение на доверието.
Норман беше разочарован от случая, който щеше да влезе в съда. Бев каза, че е вярвала, че RCMP ще разбере, след като разгледа материалите, иззети от дома на семейството, че няма нищо за направените обвинения.
RCMP интервюира министрите от кабинета на либералите, които казаха, че изтичането е повредило правителството и е подкопало доверието на обществеността в системата, но липсваше ясна линия на разследване от полицейската проба: офицерите никога не са интервюирали някой от предишното консервативно правителство на пръв поглед сериозен надзор, като се има предвид, че много от обвиненията на полицейските сили се основават на твърдения, че Норман е действал неподходящо по време на мандата на правителството на Харпър.
Случаят на ККУП обаче вече беше разпитан в съдилищата. В решение от 21 април 2017 г. по молба, подадена от група новинарски организации, включително Postmedia, направи публично достояние подробностите от заповедта за претърсване на дома на Норман, висшият съд на Онтарио Кевин Филипс посочи някои проблеми с полицейския случай: фактът, че Норман Филипс казваше, че не е знаел, че е виновен за нещо. "Въпросните писма по никакъв начин не са пушещите оръжия", пише Филипс в решение, което разпечатва информацията.
Филипс посочи още едно възможно обяснение за имейлите на Норман: десетилетия наред канадските военни доставки бяха в бъркотия. Норман се озова в средата на ситуация, в която придобиването на кораб за снабдяване, на който военноморските сили се нуждаеха силно, изглежда се насочваше към релсите единствено поради политически съображения. Съдията специално отбеляза, че нищо от това, което Норман е направил, е за финансова печалба, но вместо това е трябвало да осигури благосъстоянието на флота и неговите моряци. „В най-високата си степен изглежда, че потенциалното обвинение срещу вице-адмирал Норман е, че той се е опитвал да запази договорни взаимоотношения, така че страната да може да получи силно необходим кораб за доставка“, пише Филипс в решението си. – Един разумен член на информираната общественост може да разбере разочарованието от това, че е вице-адмирал на флота, който сам по себе си не може да отдели повече от един резервоар за газ от пристанището. Очаква се служител от неговия ранг да развива и поддържа връзки с онези, които се занимават с снабдяване на Военноморските сили и следователно комуникацията му с такива хора не е сама по себе си неблагоприятна. "
По-важното е, отбелязва Филипс, за да направи дело срещу Норман, RCMP ще трябва да докаже, че военноморският офицер е първият, който изтича поверителна информация в случая с кораба за доставки. Това може да е трудно. Службата на тайния съвет, организацията, която подкрепя министър-председателя и кабинета, вече е провела собствено разследване за изтичането на ноември 2015 г. и установи, че най-малко 42 души са знаели предварително за планираната дискусия на комисията за Астерикс, а най-малко 73 след това хората знаеха резултата. Разследването на PCO установи, че има шест отделни изтичания към различни лобистки фирми и журналисти.
Всъщност RCMP имаше информация за предполагаемия втори заподозрян в изтичането. Полицията е иззела Меморандум за кабинета – документ със „тайна“ – и слайд палуба, свързана със заседанието на кабинета на либералите относно сделката Астерикс от офиса на Брайън Мерсеро, висш служител в компанията за връзки с обществеността и лобиране. + Стратегии на Knowlton. Дружеството имаше Davie Shipbuilding като един от основните си клиенти. Полицията също иззела имейл до Mersereau от Matthew Matchett, висш служител в Канада за обществени услуги и доставки.
В имейла, който Мачет каза на Мерсеро, той щеше да пусне някакъв материал в офисите на Хил и Ноултън. "Имам всичко – майката (sic)", пише Матчет в имейла си.
Странно е, че RCMP не е натоварвал Matchett и правителството продължава да му позволява да работи като висш служител в Канада. (Правителството само оттегли Мачет, след като защитният екип на Норман публично разкри името му и предполагаемата му роля в съдебните документи. Той ще бъде обвинен в едно дело за нарушение на доверието през февруари 2019 г. Матчетт не се призна за виновен и не отговори на многобройните опити на Постмедиа да се свърже с него.)
Въпреки недостатъците в делото срещу Норман, прокуратурата продължи с наказателното обвинение срещу военноморския офицер. Прокурорът на федералната провинция Барбара Мерсие по-късно ще заяви, че прокуратурата „е направила задълбочен анализ на доказателствата и закона“, преди да реши да повдигне обвинение срещу Норман.
На 10 април 2018 г. Норман се подготвя за първото си присъствие в съда в Отава. Той избра роклята и внимателно подреди медалите си. Беше решен да носи военноморска униформа на всеки съд.
– Решението беше просто – каза той. – Аз съм служител. Гордеех се да нося униформата си. Всичко беше за моята служба, за отговорностите ми. В контекста на това, което съм обвинявал в него, имаше всичко, което имам предвид като заместник-адмирал Норман. За мен е естествено това, което бих направил. "
Със Хенейн двамата влязоха в сградата на съда, а Норман стоеше с военноморски шапката под ръката му, докато адвокатът се обърна към съдията.
Сесията беше да се определи логистиката и сроковете за случая. Хейнън казал на съда на провинциалния съд, че нейният приоритет е да получи случая „по релсите и да се придвижи към изслушване по същество“.
Външният двор Хенейн беше по-тъп. Когато един журналист попита Норман дали либералното правителство го прави на изкупителна жертва, Хенейн се намеси, за да отговори: „Мисля, че това е очевидно, нали?“ Хенейн каза, че е запалена, за да премести случая. – Чакахме година и половина, за да се справим с него – отбеляза тя. – Уморих се от сянка. Искаме да постигнем това, да се справим с това и да информираме обществеността какво точно е този случай. "
Датата на съдебния процес ще бъде определена за август 2019 г., поставяйки го на преден план пред федералните избори, които се очакваха тази есен.
Първо, елементи от делото ще се проведат в досъдебни заседания и с документи, подадени в съда през есента на 2018 година.
Предварителните изслушвания ще позволят на правния екип на Норман да изложи своите аргументи за получаване на документи от федералното правителство и за двете страни да очертаят общите си дела. Някои от изслушванията също така ще видят първоначалното кръстосано разглеждане на правителствени служители, тъй като бяха направени аргументи за освобождаването на записи.
Колкото и да беше подготвен за това, което щеше да се разгърне в съда, Норман каза, че все още му е трудно да чуе твърденията на короната срещу него. Бев и приятели от семейството му присъстваха на съда с него. Той имаше доверие в своя правен екип. Щеше да гледа съдията, съдия Хедър Пъркинс-Маквей, да се опита да разбере как отговаря на слуховете си.
„Най-трудната част беше да се вкусим за това как ще ми дойде прокуратурата“, каза той. – Трудно ми беше да седя там и да слушам какво казват за мен и за поведението ми.
Норман твърди, че е направил това, което е направил за доброто на флота и в крайна сметка за данъкоплатеца. Той е участвал във вътрешна битка срещу федералните бюрократи, които се борят срещу първоначалните планове на консервативното правителство да придобият Астерикс възможно най-бързо.
Но короната представя Норман като манипулатор, нарушавайки правителствените правила, които се е заклел да подкрепи. Норман, твърди Короната, стои зад още най-малко дузина изтичания в усилията си да подкрепи предложението на кораба Дейви и битката бюрократи, за които смяташе, че пречи на военните да получат необходимото оборудване. Прокурорите признаха, че въпреки че корабът е имал нужда от флота, а корабът „Дейви“ може би е бил най-добрият и най-рентабилен вариант, това не беше „г-н“. Решението на Норман да направи. "
"Г-н. Норман знаеше, че нарушава много много добре дефинирани правила ”, твърдят те при представянето им пред съда.
Според твърденията на Краун, съобщението на Норман с официален представител на Дейви включва описания на съдържанието на бележките или дискусиите в кабинета. В един случай Норман е написал имейл в подкрепа на проекта Дейви на личен имейл адрес, използван от тогавашния министър на правосъдието Питър Маккей.
В деня на заседанието на либералния кабинет на 19 ноември 2015 г., Короната посочи доказателства, които показаха, че Норман е говорил с журналист от ТГС Джеймс Къдмор, който е докладвал за изтичащата информация.
Отговорът на Норман на твърденията на Короната беше да се опита да не го вземе лично. – Но това е по-трудно, отколкото изглежда – каза той.
По време на досъдебното заседание стратегията на Хенейн стана ясна. Right from the beginning, Norman’s lawyers put front and centre their intention to take aim at key Liberal government officials, in particular then-Treasury Board President Scott Brison.
Central to Henein’s allegations was the claim that Brison, a Nova Scotia MP, was close to Atlantic Canada’s powerful Irving family, whose shipbuilding firm had submitted its own proposal to provide a supply ship. Norman’s lawyers alleged that Brison intervened to scuttle the Asterix project on the Irving’s behalf.
The Irvings have consistently denied any attempt to undercut a rival shipbuilder by political interference, and Brison has also denied any wrongdoing, saying his only interest was to look out for taxpayers. But Henein’s allegations, made in various legal documents, got Brison’s name into the headlines and increased the political heat on the Liberals over the Norman affair.
Norman’s legal team also hammered away in declaring the case had been politicized, pointing out the failure of the RCMP to interview any witnesses from the Harper government. The RCMP, warned Norman’s lawyers, had adopted the “political narrative advanced by the Trudeau government.”
In mid-December 2018, Henein further expanded on her political interference theory when she filed an exhibit consisting of emails between a Crown prosecutor and legal counsel in the Privy Council Office. The emails show the Privy Council lawyer asking for updates on who the Crown has been identified as potential witnesses, what was discussed in judicial pre-trial meetings and what the defence planned to argue in its pre-trial motions. “The nature and tone” of the emails were especially problematic, Henein said, given that Trudeau had a history of commenting publicly on the case.
The pre-trial hearings were mainly focused on attempts by Norman’s legal team to obtain federal documents they argued were needed for the naval officer’s defence. Known as a third-party records application, Henein and fellow lawyer Christine Mainville relentlessly used the process to argue that the government was interfering in Norman’s ability to defend himself, alleging everything from obstructing disclosure to having justice department lawyers inappropriately coach the prosecution’s witnesses.
There was no “eureka moment” when Norman thought the Crown’s case was in trouble, he said. He viewed Henein’s legal strategy as a battle of attrition. “There was no one point where I thought, ‘That was it.’ Marie and Christine had to deal with things, one by one.”
Henein and Mainville were slowly and methodically dismantling the RCMP’s arguments and undermining the credibility of one of the Crown’s potential star witnesses, Gen. Vance. They also focused on Zita Astravas, a former senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office who had been involved in political crisis management on the Norman case.
Vance testified that the RCMP had briefed him on the Norman case, that he had briefly discussed the situation with Trudeau and then later that day met at various times with Sajjan, Butts and Telford. However, he testified, he didn’t jot down a single note during any of those meetings.
Vance also acknowledged in court that even though he had been served with a subpoena requiring him to disclose all records, emails, texts and BlackBerry messages in which the Norman matter was discussed, he hadn’t bothered searching his own personal phone or email address.
The cross-examination of Astravas was even more devastating, some legal observers contend. She had difficulty remembering the names of her own staff. She couldn’t remember if she had ever dealt with Butts or Telford on the matter. She too admitted not having searched her personal phone or email for material on Norman despite the legal order to do so.
There was another moment of high drama when a young major in the Canadian Forces came forward to testify on Norman’s behalf.
On Dec. 18, 2018 the officer, whose name is protected by a publication ban because of fears of professional reprisal, testified that his superior told him Norman’s name was deliberately not used in internal files — meaning any search for records about Norman would come up empty.
The witness said he was processing an access-to-information request about Norman in 2017 that returned no results. When he sought clarification, the officer testified, his supervisor — a brigadier general — smiled and told him: “Don’t worry, this isn’t our first rodeo. We made sure we never used his name. Send back the nil return.”
“He seemed proud to provide that response,” the witness said.
The witness told court he has no relationship with Norman, and came forward only because it’s “the right thing to do.”
“It just doesn’t seem right, the way the whole situation kind of played out, when I was thinking back about it,” the witness said. “I just wanted to make it known, whether it’s relevant or not.”
As the witness testified, Norman said, he could hear an audible response ripple throughout the courtroom. “It was a shocking piece of testimony. There was a lot of people sucking air through their teeth when that happened.”
Justice Heather Perkins-McVey described the testimony as “very disturbing.”
“I was really impressed by that young officer, by his bravery, his composure,” Norman said.
But he wasn’t surprised at the officer’s testimony. Past investigations and documentation have showed the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence have a track record of destroying, hiding or delaying the release of potentially embarrassing records requested under Access to Information law. “The organization had spent a lot of time and energy over the course of my career, from my personal observation, to figure out ways to deny people access to information, whether it was in a formal application process or whether it was in a broader general sense,” Norman said.
Throughout the winter and spring, Norman’s defence launched new allegation after new allegation against the prosecution and further highlighted delays in getting documents. Records from Trudeau, Butts, Telford and Michael Wernick, the clerk of the privy council, that discussed the Norman case were among the top documents being sought.
Bev, who went to each pre-trial hearing, watched the proceedings with frustration. “It was frustrating because of how things were being kept from us, how slow things were,” she said. “You would go into court and think something would happen that day. But then nothing happened because they didn’t have the documents that day.”
In February 2019, Norman’s defence team alleged Privy Council lawyers were discussing trial strategy with federal prosecutors in a manner that showed worse political interference than the SNC-Lavalin affair. The prosecution service strongly denied that any of the discussions were inappropriate or compromised their independence.
In April, Norman’s lawyers challenged the censorship of information on a series of memos involving staff in the Prime Minister’s Office. All of this was leading up to a pre-trial motion that would allege abuse of process, arguing political interference had irreparably damaged Norman’s right to a fair trial.
Justice Perkins-McVey called it “baffling” that the Crown still had not handed over the requested documents. There were other issues as well.
In late March there was a shift in the Crown’s dogged position. Prosecutors examined new evidence gathered by Norman’s legal team, as well as documents federal officials had finally turned over.
Norman, Henein and the prosecutors have all declined to discuss the nature of that new evidence. But the information was enough to put an end to the prosecution case.
On the night of Wednesday, May 7 Norman received a call from Heinen’s office. The charges would be stayed, he was told.
“I knew Marie was in discussions with the Crown but I had no idea of the specific nature,” Norman said. “I didn’t want to know, I didn’t ask. I had complete faith in Marie and Christine to do what needed to be done.”
Norman hadn’t wanted to create any expectations in himself or in his family. He didn’t find out about the development until an hour after the judge had been informed.
Bev was in complete disbelief. Their two-and-a half-year ordeal was now at a close.
“I said to myself, ‘Okay, settle down,’” she recalled. “I was not going to believe it until I heard it in court.”
Holly was in Toronto that night. At dinner with friends, she received a text message from her parents telling her to phone home immediately. After they told her the news she returned to the table, excited but unable to tell her friends what had happened. “I was really happy for my dad to have his name officially cleared,” Holly said. “I thought the whole time he had done nothing wrong and had acted in the best interest of Canadians.”
The next morning in court prosecutors officially announced that the charge against Norman had been stayed, having determined there was no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction. Prosecutors said they made their decision after reviewing further evidence provided by Norman’s legal team as well as additional evidence from the third-party records that were not originally part of the RCMP’s investigation file.
“Based on new information, we have come to the conclusion that given the particular situation involving Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, there is no reasonable prospect of conviction,” said Crown prosecutor Barbara Mercier.
“It continues to be our view that some of Vice-Admiral Norman’s actions were secretive and inappropriate,” she added. “However, inappropriate does not mean criminal.”
Perkins-McVey wrapped up the proceedings. “Vice-Admiral Norman, you entered a plea of not guilty,” she said. “You are presumed to be innocent and you remain so. You are free to leave.”
A stay meant the charge could be reinstated within a year, but that seems unlikely considering the statements made by prosecutors.
Based on new information, we have come to the conclusion that given the particular situation involving Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, there is no reasonable prospect of conviction
Director of Public Prosecutions Kathleen Roussel issued a statement denying there had been political influence in either the decision to charge Norman or the decision to stay that charge.
Though the parties involved won’t reveal details about the new evidence, sources confirm it clearly shows members of the Conservative government — and not Norman — were the force pushing the Davie project. Sources told Postmedia that the Conservative government was so intimately involved in the project that members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office were in direct communication with Davie officials about specific details on Asterix, such as requesting that the hangar on the vessel be designed to accept the larger Chinook helicopters which the Conservatives had purchased for the Canadian Forces. In fact, Access to Information documents obtained by Postmedia show that by August 2014 Davie had already made two unsolicited proposals on Asterix to the Conservative government, which ministers had then provided to naval staff to examine.
In the aftermath of the stay of the charge against Norman and increasing questions about how the RCMP conducted its investigation, the federal police force issued a brief statement: “Throughout the course of this criminal investigation, investigators from the RCMP National Division Sensitive and International Investigations section have conducted a thorough, independent and highly professional investigation.”
The statement also acknowledged that since the court case against Matchett was still before the courts, the police force would provide no further comment.
Taxpayers may never know how much the failed prosecution of Noman cost them. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada told Postmedia it will not release the final tally.
The justice department declined to provide their costs, telling Postmedia it would have to use the Access to Information law to attempt to obtain details of the ministry’s spending on the Norman case. That process can take from one to seven years and does not guarantee the cost figure will ultimately be released. Various legal specialists consulted by Postmedia suggested the cost for the prosecution may be around $15 million.
The day charges were stayed against Norman, Trudeau offered little comment save that the prosecution was independent of his office.
But days after the charges were stayed defence minister Sajjan and procurement minister Carla Qualtrough were on the weekend political TV shows in an attempt to justify the government’s actions and highlight claims there was no political interference in Norman’s case.
Qualtrough was asked about Trudeau’s comments about Norman going to trial, even before charges were laid. “I know that’s how it was perceived and I think, in hindsight, not the best framing of words, I can assure you,” Qualtrough told Global. “But at the end of the day, there wasn’t political interference here.” Asked why the Liberal government wouldn’t apologize to Norman when it had in previous years issued numerous apologies to various groups, Qualtrough had her answer ready. “We can’t be in the business of apologizing for independent organizations doing their jobs.”
On CTV Sajjan doubled down on defending how the Norman case unfolded, fully backing Vance’s decision to suspend vice admiral based on unproven allegations by the RCMP. As for Norman, Sajjan wouldn’t apologize. In fact, he couldn’t bring himself to even say that he regretted what Norman and his family had gone through.
Sajjan said his regret was that Norman and the Canadian Forces had to go through what they did. The minister denied the Liberal government had dragged out the process of producing documents in the hopes Norman, facing mounting legal fees, would go bankrupt and throw in the towel.
Despite Sajjan’s denial, there are many in the military community who have told Postmedia they believe that strategy was at play.
On May 14 the House of Commons voted to accept a Conservative MP’s motion to apologize to Norman for what he and his family experienced during their legal battle. Although MPs supported it, the motion was not an apology from the Liberal government and while the Commons can express opinions by voting on motions those are typically not binding and carry no legal weight. Neither Trudeau nor Sajjan were in the Commons when the vote was taken.
Norman has said he wants to go back to his job as vice-chief of the defence staff. But Sajjan has already stated that won’t happen, though only Vance has the legal authority to make the decision.
The government has finally agreed to pay Norman’s legal fees, although negotiations on that matter have yet to begin. Norman has yet to go back to National Defence headquarters or to meet in person with Vance, who declined Postmedia’s request to comment for this story.
Norman declined to discuss his future plans, including whether he will be launching a lawsuit against the federal government. But sources have told Postmedia that is in the works. The military rules that restrain Norman’s public comments do not prevent any lawyer involved in a lawsuit from speaking on his behalf or filing documents.
And military regulations don’t apply to his family.
Bev told Postmedia she still has flashbacks about the RCMP raid and questions about how everything unfolded. “It was such an intrusive feeling to know people had come into my house and had gone through my personal things, to take away my personal iPad,” she said. “It’s been a huge stress on our family.”
One of the most frustrating and baffling aspects of the case for her is that no one in the RCMP or prosecutor’s office ever talked to her husband to ask for his side of the story. “I could never quite understand that,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you? I focus on that a lot.”
But both she and Holly take comfort in the thousands of people who supported the family, both financially and through their best wishes.
The family is now adjusting to their new situation. “Just like we had to adjust to a new normal after the (RCMP raid) we’ll adjust to the new normal after this is all sorted out,” Mark Norman said. “We’re pretty resilient. But the good news is this is a much better place to be in than the place we’ve been in for the last two-and-a-half years.”
— with files from Brian Platt, National Post
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