Crown drops case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman

The Crown abandoned its prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman today, ending the trial of the Navy’s top sailor who stood accused of breach of trust.

Jason Unrau Montreal QC

The Crown stayed its prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman today, ending the trial of the Navy’s top sailor who stood accused of breach of trust.

Lead federal public prosecutor Barbara Mercier told Ontario Superior Court her decision was based on “new information” presented to her office in March by Norman’s defence team.

“(It) provided greater context in revealing a number of complexities that we were not aware of…(and) there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction in this case,” said Mercier.

In March of 2018 RCMP charged Norman for leaking confidential cabinet documents related to a $610 million shipbuilding contract at Davie Shipbuilding in Québec.

The leak detailed a 2015 cabinet meeting shortly after Liberals won a majority election victory: its decision to halt the Davie resupply project already underway. The reason: rival shipyard J.D. Irving had written to ask that the sole-source contract be opened to competition.

The charges against Norman came more than a year after police raided his Ottawa home and General Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, suspends Norman from his command in January 2017.

Given the politics surrounding the charge against Norman, which emanated from a Privy Council investigation into the leak that was referred to police, Mercier told the court that there “was no orchestration” of the charge or the prosecution and it was “our decision to end it today.”

In staying the charge against Norman, Ontario Superior Court Justice Heather Perkins-McVey told the 38-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, “when you entered a plea of guilty you are presumed to be innocent and you remain so.”

Outside the provincial courthouse in Ottawa, Mercier was hounded by reporters for details of the new evidence and why the weight of federal Crown prosecutors could not obtain this material.

“I cannot get into the specifics of that information. The defence counsel gave it to us under certain conditions, for our purposes only, but I will say that absorbing it and comparing it (to our evidence),” said Mercier. “We did not have all the information.”


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