Vice-ad­mi­ral Nor­man files de­fence

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Platt Na­tional Post, with files from David Pugliese, Ot­tawa Cit­i­zen bplatt@post­media.com

OT­TAWA • Lawyers for ViceAd­mi­ral Mark Nor­man have for the first time out­lined the ar­gu­ments they will use in his de­fence as they seek ac­cess to a mas­sive trove of clas­si­fied govern­ment doc­u­ments ahead of his crim­i­nal trial on a charge of breach of trust.

The ap­pli­ca­tion for third­party records, filed Fri­day at the Ot­tawa court­house, ar­gues that far from in­ter­fer­ing in a ship­build­ing con­tract for per­sonal gain or pref­er­ence, as the Crown has al­leged, Nor­man was work­ing to en­sure that the or­ders of elected of­fi­cials were be­ing fol­lowed in the face of re­sis­tance from “sev­eral se­nior civil ser­vants.” It also ar­gues there is no ev­i­dence Nor­man ever leaked cabinet doc­u­ments, and al­leges the leak came in­stead from a govern­ment em­ployee. And it points out that leaks are en­demic in Ot­tawa, only oc­ca­sion­ally in­ves­ti­gated and al­most never pros­e­cuted.

“Nor­man ap­pears to be the first per­son in Cana­dian his­tory to be crim­i­nally pros­e­cuted for a pur­ported vi­o­la­tion of Cabinet con­fi­dences,” the court doc­u­ment says. “This, in cir­cum­stances where he was not gen­er­ally a par­tic­i­pant in any Cabinet meet­ings and did not leak any Cabinet doc­u­ments.”

The ap­pli­ca­tion also names for the first time a govern­ment em­ployee whom Nor­man’s lawyers al­lege to be the true source of leaked cabinet doc­u­ments. That em­ployee, Matthew Match­ett, has not been charged with any of­fence and the al­le­ga­tion has not been proven in court. The Na­tional Post was un­able to reach Match­ett for com­ment be­fore dead­line.

Nor­man, who as vicechief of the de­fence staff was sec­ond-in-com­mand of the Cana­dian Forces, was sus­pended from his po­si­tion by Chief of the De­fence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance in Jan­uary 2017, nearly two months af­ter then-CBC journalist James Cud­more re­ported that the new fed­eral Lib­eral govern­ment planned to de­lay a con­tract awarded to Davie Ship­build­ing to pro­vide the navy with a sup­ply ship. In the face of the re­sult­ing pub­lic­ity the govern­ment backed down on the de­lay, but asked the RCMP to in­ves­ti­gate the leak. Nor­man was sus­pended af­ter the RCMP raided his house, be­liev­ing he leaked se­cret in­for­ma­tion about cabinet dis­cus­sions on the Davie con­tract. He was ul­ti­mately charged with one count of breach of trust in March of this year.

But the court doc­u­ment al­leges it was Match­ett, then a civil ser­vant with the At­lantic Canada Op­por­tu­ni­ties Agency, who first dis­closed the cabinet doc­u­ments to a lob­by­ist. The lob­by­ist then passed them on to Davie.

The ap­pli­ca­tion ar­gues that both Davie Ship­build­ing and Cud­more had thus “al­ready ob­tained in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the Cabinet meet­ing from other sources” be­fore they com­mu­ni­cated with Nor­man about the de­lay.

It also claims that an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Privy Coun­cil Of­fice found that at least 42 peo­ple knew about the planned cabinet com­mit­tee dis­cus­sion on the ship con­tract be­fore­hand, and at least 73 peo­ple knew the re­sult af­ter­ward.

“The PCO in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that there were six sep­a­rate leaks re­lated to the Ad Hoc Com­mit­tee alone, in­clud­ing to two sep­a­rate CBC re­porters, Ra­dio-Canada, and the lob­by­ing firm Fleish­man & Hil­lard,” the doc­u­ment says. “The sources of most of the leaks iden­ti­fied in the PCO in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­main un­known.”

Only Nor­man has been charged over the leaks. The doc­u­ment says Match­ett’s cur­rent sta­tus within the govern­ment is “un­known.” Cud­more, mean­while, was hired by De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan’s of­fice as a pol­icy ad­viser in Jan­uary 2016, though was later moved to the of­fice of the min­is­ter of demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions.

The ap­pli­ca­tion filed by Nor­man’s lawyers makes 52 re­quests for govern­ment dis­clo­sure. It ar­gues that the doc­u­ments dis­closed so far have been “se­lec­tive ev­i­dence cherry-picked by the pros­e­cu­tion,” and says it needs “the full nar­ra­tive of govern­ment ac­tiv­ity as it per­tained to the (ship con­tract).”

Among the records re­quested are min­utes of cabinet meet­ings; records of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to and from the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice; records of any govern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­lated to other leaks that have re­cently ap­peared in the me­dia; and wide-rang­ing records of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween govern­ment min­is­ters and ship­build­ing firms, in­clud­ing Davie’s east-coast ri­val, Irv­ing Ship­build­ing.

The records cover time pe­ri­ods of both prime min­ster Stephen Harper’s govern­ment and Justin Trudeau’s. The next sched­uled court date for Nor­man’s case is Nov. 2.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS/FILES

Vice-Ad­mi­ral Mark Nor­man leaves court with his lawyer Marie Henein fol­low­ing a hear­ing in Ot­tawa on Sept. 4. His next court date is sched­uled for Nov. 2.

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