OTTAWA—Vice-Admiral Mark Norman says he’s eager to deal with the criminal charge he faces and return to serving Canadians.
Wearing his full navy uniform, Norman made a brief court appearance April 10 concerning an accusation he leaked sensitive information about a shipbuilding project.
Norman was charged last month with breach of trust and denies any wrongdoing. He is slated to return to Ontario court May 15 to begin setting a timetable for proceedings.
“I’m anxious to get to court, get this dealt with as quickly as possible and get back to serving the people of Canada,” he said following the appearance.
Norman, who was the military’s second-in-command until suspended from duty early last year, faces up to five years in prison.
The case revolves around a November 2015 decision by the newly elected Liberal government to reconsider a $700-million contract the Harper Conservatives had awarded to Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding.
Davie was hired to convert a civilian vessel, the MV Asterix, into a temporary resupply ship that would be leased until a permanent replacement was ready.
While the plan to revisit the contract was supposed to remain secret, court documents show the RCMP suspected Norman of being upset with the decision out of concern the government would cancel the project.
Norman was commander of the navy at the time and, according to the documents, allegedly worked with Davie to pressure the government to keep the project afloat.
None of the accusations has been tested in court.
Norman’s lawyer, Marie Henein, told the court April 10 that disclosure of materials from the Crown to the defence is “substantially complete.”
The criminal investigation began in December 2015 when the RCMP received a complaint alleging that cabinet secrets had been disclosed.
The Mounties gathered evidence through court-approved warrants and a legal assistance treaty request involving U.S. authorities. The investigation also included interviews and the forensic analysis of “a significant number” of documents, the RCMP says.
Henein expressed impatience with the length of the process.
“I’m tired of shadow-boxing. It’s time to step in the courtroom and deal with the evidence,” she told reporters after the hearing.
“I don’t try my cases on the courthouse steps. I try them in a courtroom. And that is what we are ready to do. So we want to get this going, get this dealt with and let the public know exactly what this case is about.”
Asked if her client was being treated as a scapegoat, Henein said: “I think that’s self-evident, isn’t it?”
From The Canadian Press