Norman’s supporters picket courthouse
OTTAWA • A handful of supporters turned up at the Ottawa courthouse Wednesday to praise Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and decry the criminal charge against him, though the suspended military officer did not appear in court.
Norman was suspended as the military’s second-incommand in January 2017 and charged this past March with breach of trust for allegedly leaking government secrets to a Quebec shipyard. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Wednesday’s proceeding was a routine review and followed a closed-door conference Tuesday between the Crown and Norman’s defence lawyer — a conference court was told has been scheduled to resume June 27.
The two sides will report back to the court July 10.
Norman was not in the courtroom and was instead represented by Ottawa lawyer Owen Rees.
The vice-admiral’s absence didn’t stop a handful of people from showing up at the courthouse to show their support for the suspended officer, including retired naval captain Ian Paterson, who served with Norman in the Forces.
“I know him as a fine man. A brilliant officer. A solid, standup guy who would go to the wall for his folks,” Paterson said outside the courthouse. “He’s one of the few senior officers over the last decade that has actually stood up and said, ‘This is what we should do,’ and as a result, he’s just being ground down.”
Norman has enjoyed significant backing from various people across the country, including more than 1,000 people who have donated a combined $125,000 to a crowdsourced fund to help cover his legal costs.
Those contributors include former military officers and even some politicians such as Alberta opposition leader Jason Kenney.
Many supporters have alleged that he is simply a casualty of a larger war being waged between the shipyards involved in the federal government’s multibillion-dollar shipbuilding plan.
Others have accused the Trudeau government of trying to make an example of him. “The sole agenda here is not so much Mark Norman, but there are other issues at play here,” Paterson said. “I don’t know how it benefits the navy, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian public. And it’s just staggering.”
Several other supporters who admitted that they didn’t personally know Norman were also on hand sporting a banner bearing the words “Incorruptible: Canada Stands With You.”
“We’re here to show support for the embattled Vice-Admiral Mark Norman,” said Brandon Wallingford. “We believe that he is one of two things, either an innocent man who has been wildly accused of something that he didn’t do or a whistleblower who has revealed the truth about contracts that were being changed by the government.”
Vice-Admiral Mark Norman