Breach

VICE-AD­MI­RAL MARK NOR­MAN KNEW HE WAS BREAK­ING SE­CRECY RULES, BUT DID IT TO GET THE DEAL HE WANTED, PROS­E­CU­TORS SAY.

National Post (National Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - David Pugliese and Brian Platt Ot­tawa Cit­i­zen and Na­tional Post [email protected]­media.com

The court that will de­ter­mine whether Vice-Ad­mi­ral Mark Nor­man is guilty of breach of trust shouldn’t con­sider whether other fed­eral em­ploy­ees were leak­ing se­crets, or whether pub­lic ser­vants were un­der­cut­ting an ef­fort to ob­tain a new sup­ply ship for the Cana­dian navy, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors ar­gue in doc­u­ments filed this week. In­stead, it should con­sider only whether Nor­man’s al­leged leak of cab­i­net con­fi­dences was done with crim­i­nal in­tent.

“Mark Nor­man does not face a crim­i­nal charge for hav­ing done what he thought was best for Canada’s Navy,” the pros­e­cu­tors ar­gue. “He is charged for break­ing the rules that he swore to up­hold; rules that, to him, had be­come in­con­ve­nient; rules that were frus­trat­ing what he thought was im­por­tant and wanted.”

It sug­gests pros­e­cu­tors have ex­panded their fo­cus from the orig­i­nal po­lice al­le­ga­tions about a leak from a cab­i­net com­mit­tee meet­ing to en­com­pass an ar­gu­ment that Nor­man should not have been com­mu­ni­cat­ing at all with jour­nal­ists or with Que­bec-based Davie Ship­build­ing, which had been con­tracted to pro­vide the sup­ply ship.

Nor­man, the for­mer sec­ond-in-com­mand of the Cana­dian Forces, was charged with one count of breach of trust in March 2018 af­ter a long RCMP in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the leak of in­for­ma­tion from a Novem­ber 2015 cab­i­net com­mit­tee meet­ing at which min­is­ters in the newly elected Liberal gov­ern­ment de­cided to pause the sole-sourced deal with Davie, struck by the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment that sum­mer. The de­ci­sion to re­con­sider the Davie pro­ject came af­ter four min­is­ters re­ceived a let­ter from the pow­er­ful Irv­ing fam­ily, who wanted their own sup­ply-ship pro­posal re­con­sid­ered. (Irv­ing Ship­build­ing has de­nied any at­tempt at po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence.)

The RCMP al­leged Nor­man, who has pleaded not guilty to the breach of trust charge, cham­pi­oned Davie’s pro­posal and pro­vided com­pany of­fi­cials with in­for­ma­tion from the cab­i­net meet­ing and the dis­cus­sions about de­lay­ing the deal with the com­pany.

Nor­man’s le­gal team has ar­gued 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 as a group of pub­lic ser­vants tried to un­der­cut the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment’s or­ders to quickly ac­quire a sup­ply ship for a navy badly in need of one. Nor­man’s lawyers have also ar­gued there is no ev­i­dence Nor­man ever leaked cab­i­net doc­u­ments, al­leg­ing the leak in ques­tion ac­tu­ally came from a gov­ern­ment em­ployee named Matthew Match­ett.

“The Navy may very well need a ship, and the (Davie ves­sel) may very well be the best, most cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion,” fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors ar­gue in their fil­ing. “But that is not Mr. Nor­man’s de­ci­sion to make, nor is he able to force that de­ci­sions or in­flu­ence it by se­cretly re­leas­ing in­for­ma­tion to per­sons out­side the gov­ern­ment.”

Nor­man is bound by a Cana­dian Forces code of val­ues and ethics which in­cludes the duty of “in­tegrity and loy­alty,” the pros­e­cu­tors said.

In ad­di­tion, all com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the me­dia con­cern­ing or af­fect­ing the Cana­dian Forces are pro­hib­ited and may only be made with the ex­press per­mis­sion of the minister or a per­son des­ig­nated by the minister, ac­cord­ing to the Crown.

If Nor­man be­lieved other pub­lic ser­vants were un­der­min­ing the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment’s or­der he should have com­plained up the chain of com­mand, or asked for pro­tec­tion un­der the whistle­blower law, in­stead of ad­vo­cat­ing for the Davie pro­posal be­hind the scenes, the court fil­ing ar­gued. “Mr. Nor­man knew he was break­ing many very well-de­fined rules.”

In its fil­ing, the Crown pro­vides more de­tail on its al­le­ga­tion that Nor­man sys­tem­at­i­cally leaked se­cret cab­i­net in­for­ma­tion, par­tic­u­larly to Davie rep­re­sen­ta­tive Spencer Fraser. The Crown al­leges Nor­man’s leaks started as far back as Oc­to­ber 2014 and car­ried on through the day of the cab­i­net com­mit­tee meet­ing.

“The Crown main­tains the leaks were strate­gic,” the fil­ing says. “The leaks were made at times when ei­ther Nor­man was dis­pleased with the di­rec­tion be­ing taken by a civil ser­vant ... or when he knew Cab­i­net was con­sid­er­ing or near­ing a de­ci­sion point.”

The Crown al­leges Nor­man’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Fraser in­cluded de­scrip­tions of the con­tents of cab­i­net memos or dis­cus­sions. In one in­stance, Nor­man wrote an email in sup­port of the Davie pro­ject to a per­sonal email ac­count used by then jus­tice minister Peter McKay. Nor­man then for­warded it so Fraser could see what he wrote to McKay.

On the day of the Nov. 19, 2015 com­mit­tee meet­ing in­volv­ing Liberal min­is­ters, the Crown’s ev­i­dence shows Nor­man was talk­ing to CBC’s James Cud­more. Nor­man for­warded Cud­more a let­ter that saw Irv­ing Ship­build­ing urg­ing Liberal min­is­ters to back off the Davie pro­ject. Cud­more re­sponded to Nor­man and said: “amaz­ing. Thank you for this... thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

The Crown ar­gues Nor­man must have known his con­duct was il­le­gal be­cause he fre­quently urged his cor­re­spon­dents to keep their com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­fi­den­tial. “FFS, keep me out of this,” he told Cud­more on the day of the meet­ing, us­ing a pro­fane acro­nym.

ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Vice-Ad­mi­ral Mark Nor­man was charged in March with one count of breach of trust. He has pleaded not guilty.

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