Nor­man’s sup­port­ers picket court­house

Edmonton Journal - - CLASSIFIED - Lee Berthiaume

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

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