Yesterday I went to Ottawa for what was supposed to be the latest in the two-year prosecution of Vice Admiral Mark Norman, the second in command of the Canadian Forces.
Things were heating up, and Norman’s hotshot lawyer, Marie Henein, was effectively turning the tables on the Trudeau government. Her client was accused of one count of breach of trust — which is a horrific charge to level against a top military officer. It’s tantamount to treason, really; it’s typical for someone who, say, would steer a ship-building contract to a political friend in return for a secret cash payment.
But Mark Norman — he sort of did the opposite. See, the Canadian navy needed a supply ship, basically a floating fuel station for its other ships. And it was needed in a hurry; so he championed a plan to refurbish an existing ship to get it done faster. That was approved by the Harper cabinet; the contract was given to a Quebec shipyard.
But after Trudeau won the 2015 election, wouldn’t you know it, but Scott Brison, the Liberal cabinet minister, came to cabinet with a letter from a ship building firm in the Atlantic, owned by the Liberal Irving family, saying, hey, why don’t you do the right thing for your Liberal friends and give us that contract?
Not only did the Irvings not win the competition; but cancelling on the Quebec shipyard would incur $89 million in cancellation penalties.
So Mark Norman mentioned this to the Quebec shipyard. And he apparently leaked this proposed interference by Brison to the media. The resulting embarrassment caused Brison and Trudeau to back off; the contract with the Quebec firm went ahead, and incredibly, the ship was built on time and on budget. How rare is that?
But oh my God, don’t you dare cross Trudeau.
The government launched an internal investigation — who leaked the news of their secret plans to give the ship-building contract to their Liberal buddies? And they found that it was Mark Norman.
He was a whisteblower in his own way, like Jody Wilson-Raybould was. And it turns out that the investigation into the leaker found not one leaker, but six. Who'd in turn leaked the information a total of 73 people.
Funny, though — Mark Norman was the one suspended from his command, and prosecuted for the crime of breach of trust.
The government, which normally pays for the legal defence of civil servants and military personnel who are sued for what they do on the job, refused to pay for Mark Normal’s legal defence fund. So the second in command of the Canadian military was forced to put up a crowdfunding page.
The case has been before the courts for two years. But Henein wasn’t getting what a criminal defence lawyer is entitled to under law — what’s called disclosure. The government, including the crooked clerk of the privy council, wouldn’t hand over their files.
I thought it was getting really interesting, so I decided last week to go to Ottawa yesterday to live-tweet from the hearing.
But the night before Wednesday’s hearing, the prosecutor herself put out a note saying there would be an important announcement. And indeed there was:
“After reviewing further evidence provided to the prosecution, some from applications for records that were not part of the investigation file (third party records) and some volunteered by the defence, the PPSC is no longer of the view that a reasonable prospect of conviction exists. In particular, the Crown has concluded that it will not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Norman’s conduct in this case amounted to a serious and marked departure from the standards expected of a person in his position of trust.”
So that’s what the prosecutor told the judge. And the charges were dropped. After two years of being wrung out.
Let me translate into English:
The Trudeau government refused to give over information to Mark Norman or his lawyer Marie Henein. Not just that, they were actively deceiving the court, by claiming they had no records, or by deliberately using coded words so as not to use Norman’s name.
Marie Henein herself found records that exonerated Norman, and gave them to the prosecutor. They dropped the charges. They would have prosecuted and perhaps convicted an innocent man, had Trudeau had his way.
When the prosecutor came out of the court and said this, I was right there, and I was steaming mad. How on earth could the crown prosecutor not have the facts? They had endless resources — it’s the government.
Surely she knew for months, probably years, that her client, the Trudeau government, was withholding information. And she has nothing to say?
And what about Justin Trudeau? He skipped question period on Wednesday. And again today — he was busy, he said, getting ready for a Ramadan celebration — I’m not kidding.
Justin Trudeau loves making apologies — but for what other people have done, never for what he’s done.
But none for his mistreatment of Mark Norman.
After I scrummed the prosecutor, I went to the press conference with Marie Henein and Mark Norman.
TONIGHT I'll show you much of what was said, especially because you won’t see most of this elsewhere.
I want to tell you how it felt in that room. That room, full of Media Party reporters, in the last election, would have voted about 80 per cent for Trudeau and 20 per cent for Thomas Mulcair. Except the cameramen — who probably voted 50 per cent for Harper. (I’m serious — I had a camera guy for a rival network, I won’t say who, who asked me if he could get a selfie with him! They’re normal. It’s the on-air talent who are the lefties.)
And I should tell you that every single person in that room, including the 80 per cent who voted for Trudeau, every single one of them was on the side of Mark Norman. And just as much, on the side of his lawyer.
Mark Norman has a few more moves left. I think he’s going to tell his story — he said he would. I think he must. I think he has to sue for abuse of process and abuse of office. Smoke out all those internal documents that way. Put Michael Wernick and Scott Brison and Gerald Butts on the stand.
Sue for $10.5 million — that’s what terrorist Omar Khadr got from Trudeau.
This story isn’t over.
In fact, maybe it’s just beginning...
NEXT: Andrew Lawton of the True North Initiative joins me to talk about how Catherine McKenna, despite being a lawyer, misrepresented the Saskatchewan Court of Appeals decision on the federal carbon tax.
FINALLY: Your messages to me!