Mark Norman was doing his job, had not ‘gone rogue’ on ship deal: lawyers

OTTAWA — Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s lawyers started making their case in earnest for access to thousands of government files Thursday, saying the records will prove the suspended military officer’s innocence — and that he had not “gone rogue.”

The Crown alleges Norman tried to undermine and influence the federal cabinet’s decisions on a $700-million naval project by leaking government secrets to the shipyard and media for more than a year.

But Norman’s lawyers told an Ottawa court during the second day of a five-day pretrial hearing that the former vice-chief of the defence staff, who has been charged with one count of breach of trust, was doing the exact opposite.

And they say the documents that they want to see, which the Crown has argued are irrelevant to the case, will confirm that fact by revealing the full context of what was really happening in the halls of power.

“This is information we need to show that he did not try to undermine the cabinet process,” defence lawyer Christine Mainville said. “We simply can’t convict Vice-Admiral Norman on theories, we need to know what happened.”

The requested documents include memos, letters, meeting agendas and minutes as well as communications between political and military officials and Davie Shipbuilding, which was awarded the contract in late 2015.

The contract, negotiated by the Stephen Harper Conservatives and signed by the newly elected Liberals, involved Davie refitting a civilian container ship into a support vessel for the navy to lease.

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