PCO lawyer asked prosecutor if there was a way to ‘engineer issues’ in Norman case, court hears

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The top lawyer at the Privy Council Office apparently asked federal prosecutors if it was possible to « engineer the issues at stake » in the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

The remarks — made on Sept. 18, 2018 and attributed to PCO lawyer Paul Shuttle — were contained in prosecution notes entered into evidence at a pretrial hearing involving the former vice-chief of the defence staff, who faces one count of breach of trust.

Justice Heather Perkins-McVey made reference to them on Friday as the Crown attempted to explain why it redacted notes being sought by Norman’s defence team.

The judge acknowledged there is a lot background missing from the reference.

« You wonder what that is about, » said Perkins-McVey. « We don’t know the context, what they were speaking about. »

Defence attorney Christine Mainville agreed and suggested she wasn’t prepared to jump to conclusions either, saying a lot of references in both the censored and uncensored versions of the notes « remain ambiguous. »

But she also noted during Friday’s pretrial hearing that notes of meetings between the Crown and officials at the Privy Council Office, which reports directly to the Prime Minister’s Office and cabinet, will be important to the defence when it moves at the end of March to have the charges against Norman dismissed.

Whether the ‘engineering’ reference will help the defence remains to be seen.

Earlier this week, the lead Crown lawyer, Barbara Mercier, stated in an email to the defence that the notes were redacted for « litigation privilege » because they involve discussions of « trial strategy. » That prompted defence lawyers to allege political interference on Monday.

The director of the prosecution service denied the claim of interference in a written statement this week. That point was reinforced by Crown lawyer John MacFarlane in court Friday.

« There no direction from the Privy Council Office to PPSC on how to direct the case, » he said. « There was no direction or input from the Prime Minister’s Office to our office on how to direct the case. »

Judge asks about comments

As he spoke, Justice Perkins-McVey flipped through the uncensored version of the meeting notes and asked, « What about comments from Paul Shuttle, like, ‘Is there a way to engineer the issues at stake?' »

MacFarlane insisted the meetings were meant to identify a potential witness who could speak to the issue of cabinet confidences. Norman is accused of leaking cabinet secrets related to a $668 million shipbuilding deal to lease a supply ship for the navy in 2015.

The judge seemed skeptical of that explanation.

« There was certainly a discussion of evidence, » said Perkins-McVey, referring to the notes but not quoting further from them. « There was discussion of the evidence-gathering process. Obviously this was done well before. »

Norman does not go to trial until August. His lawyers have been arguing in court for months over access to federal government documents, including secret cabinet memos and notes related to the prosecution.

The Crown has fought most of the requests, claiming they are not relevant to the charge that the former commander of the navy leaked sensitive cabinet information both to executives at both the Davie shipyard in Levis, Que., and to CBC journalist James Cudmore.

The case will be back in court Feb. 22.

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Several witnesses in Norman trial still haven’t searched personal records for evidence, court told

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Several major government figures at the centre of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman have not searched their personal email and phones for correspondence relevant to the case, despite the instructions of court-ordered subpoenas.

Zita Astravas, who serves as the chief of staff to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, was called to testify Thursday at a pretrial hearing in the breach-of-trust case against Norman.

She said the advice she received from lawyers at National Defence was that she was required only to surrender communications from her work-provided BlackBerry phone.

Norman’s defence team, led by Toronto lawyer Marie Henein, has been fighting in court for the disclosure of thousands of federal government documents — and have accused the federal government of conducting a selective and haphazard search for those documents.

In testimony Wednesday, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance acknowledged that he had not searched his personal email or his iPhone for anything that might relate to the case. Gen. Vance has insisted he doesn’t conduct any work-related business on his non-government devices.

Earlier this week, lawyers for federal cabinet minister Scott Brison delivered to court personal emails relevant to the case, separate from his government accounts.

Norman, the former commander of the navy, has been charged with one count of breach of trust and is accused of leaking cabinet secrets related to a $668 million contract to lease a supply ship for the navy. He was suspended as the military’s second-in-command in January, 2017.

Astravas was director of issues management in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office between November 2015 and August 2017 — the time period when the criminal investigation involving Norman first became public. She would have been the public servant tasked with briefing the prime minister on important issues and daily crises.

Astravas testified she didn’t know if her former email account had been searched in response to a subpoena issued by Norman’s lawyers.

Robert MacKinnon, the federal lawyer responsible for the record search, told the court the instruction given to all departments was that all devices must be searched. He said that instruction will be repeated.

​The pre-trial hearing has focused largely on the collection and production of communications relevant to the case. The actual trial is scheduled to begin in August, just months before the federal election.

Henein asked Astravas if she is aware of any communications within government about the timing of the case.

« Do you recall having any communications about delaying this trial or about the timing of this trial? » she asked.

« I don’t remember, » Astravas replied.

‘Fishing expedition’

On Tuesday, the defence team produced a list of words used in documentation to refer to Norman that it had obtained through Access to Information. They include Kracken, MN3, C34 and The Boss.

Vance said the military routinely uses jargon, acronyms and pseudonyms and he didn’t see anything on the list that he thought would qualify as a ‘codename’.

The list released to the defence team through the access request did not include any terms used in Sajjan’s office, which claimed a ministerial exemption from the request.

Astravas said after she received a subpoena to appear in court late Wednesday, she asked her staff to make « best efforts » to check if other pseudonyms for Norman had been used. She said they did not come up with additional terms.

Henein asked if Astravas knew of the terms « the certain naval officer, » « a certain naval fellow » or a « a naval colleague » being used, but Astravas said she could not recall.

Norman’s defence team has been engaged in legal wrangling with government lawyers over the the release of documents deemed relevant to the case.

Henein described the situation as « quite extraordinary, » with the government asserting cabinet confidence over certain documents and the defence securing subpoenas to obtain those documents.

Crown lawyer Barbara Mercier suggested the defence is trying to prolong the process to « kingdom come. »

« I have a very strong feeling that this has been a very large fishing expedition, » she said.

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Canada’s top soldier spoke with Trudeau after learning of Norman case — but no records exist – National

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Hours after learning from RCMP that his second-in-command was under investigation for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets, Canada’s top soldier had a phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after briefing top-level political staff about the case.

But there appear to be no records of what exactly the two discussed in the early hours of a case that has rocked the Canadian Forces and prompted accusations of political interference and scapegoating.

READ MORE: Code Name ‘Kraken’ — How Mark Norman’s lawyers allege military used pseudonyms to hide records

In testimony before an Ottawa court on Wednesday, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance explained how he first learned the RCMP was investigating his vice chief of defence staff, Vice-Adm. Mark Norman, in a meeting on Jan. 9, 2017.

In that meeting were several deputy ministers, RCMP officials, Vance and the national security adviser to Trudeau.

WATCH BELOW: Conservatives question Liberals over emails in Norman case






Afterwards, both Vance and the national security adviser met for roughly five minutes with Gerry Butts and Katie Telford to brief them on the news that the RCMP was investigating Norman in relation to a report leaked to media in November 2015 that the newly-elected Liberals had considered freezing a $700-million deal to buy the navy a new supply ship.

Both of its remaining vessels had rusted out or caught fire in the years previous.

Vance said he asked for Butts or Telford, who are Trudeau’s principal secretary and chief of staff, respectively, to inform him of what was going on.

Later that day, he received a phone call from Trudeau about the matter.

READ MORE: Twin investigations launched into whether military blocked access to information in Mark Norman case

But Vance told the court he took no notes and is not aware of there being any records showing what was discussed during that call, nor in any of the other meetings with either Butts and Telford or with RCMP officials that day.

Norman was abruptly suspended from his duties as the country’s second most senior soldier on Jan. 16, 2017, with no public explanation given.

Vance had previously declined to tell reporters which officials he informed of the investigation into Norman.

Yet the question of how much Trudeau knew about the case has dogged him for close to two years now, as have accusations of political interference.

WATCH BELOW: Opposition asks how Trudeau knew about charges against Vice-Adm. Norman






Trudeau made public remarks in 2017 and in February 2018, prior to Norman being charged with one count of breach of trust for the alleged leak, that he expected the matter would “inevitably” lead to “court processes.”

He has since been asked repeatedly in question period and by media as to how he came to that determination, given Norman was not charged until March 2018.

Trudeau has refused to comment on the case since those initial remarks.

Vance told the court he was advised that Norman would be charged prior it actually being laid.

He did not tell the court who informed him of that, saying instead, “I can’t recall.”

When asked whether he shared that information with anyone, Vance said he told either Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or told the deputy minister of the Department of National Defence with the instruction to tell the minister.

It is not clear when he advised those individuals of the pending charge or whether they told anyone else.

The revelation that Trudeau and Vance spoke directly about the case, and that Vance informed or intended to inform a senior member of Trudeau’s cabinet about pending charges, raises new questions about accusations made repeatedly by Norman’s defence team. Norman’s defence counsel says he is being scapegoated by the Liberals because the leaked report of the plans to freeze the supply ship deal effectively forced the government to honour it.

Ditching the deal with Davie Shipyards,, which was inked under the former Conservative government, would have hit taxpayers with a penalty fee of roughly $89 million.

Scott Brison, who until earlier this month served as President of the Treasury Board, told RCMP when they launched their investigation that the leak had damaged his ability to do his due diligence in re-evaluating the deal after the Liberals were elected.

However, Brison was among several cabinet ministers pressed by Irving and Seaspan, two rival shipyards to Davie, to reconsider proposals to do that same work at their own shipyards in the weeks leading up to the leak.

Brison has close ties to the Irving family. His emails and any potential communication with the firm related to the supply ship deal have been repeatedly sought by Norman’s defence team in the pre-trial hearings in his case so far.

On Tuesday, Brison’s lawyers filed an application seeking standing in the case.

In their filing, his legal team said it wanted to be able to protect his “privacy” and “interests” as the case unfolds.

Testimony is set to continue Wednesday afternoon.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Subterfuge and deceit’: What the Crown’s case against Mark Norman says — and what it has to prove

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« FFS keep me out of this. » If you’re in politics or news media in Ottawa, you’ve seen that well-worn, profane phrase pop up in your in-box from time to time.

The Crown put those words — culled from an email allegedly written by the former head of the navy in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2015 to now-former CBC journalist James Cudmore — in bold type as it laid down the foundation of its criminal breach-of-trust case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman in documents released late this week.

It was — in the estimation of prosecutors Barbara Mercier, Mark Coven and Jeannine Plamondon — a recognition by Norman that he was in « in the wrong. »

What he allegedly did wrong, according to the court filing released Friday, was provide information about a Liberal cabinet decision to halt a $668 million leased supply ship contract for the navy to both the shipyard involved and the media.

Significantly, the Crown’s court brief — which contains extracts of emails and text conversations seized by the RCMP in the course of their investigation — expands the scope of the claims against Norman to include allegations that he breached cabinet secrecy on 12 separate occasions.

None of the information contained in the 76 page filing has been tested in court, nor have any of the documents cited been entered into evidence.

Norman, the former vice chief of the defence staff, is charged with one count of breach of trust.

‘Repeated, continuous, covert leaking’

« Mr. Norman knowingly and deliberately leaked this information. In various communications, he acknowledged this information was privileged and confidential, » said the filing, the latest legal salvo in this high-stakes political drama.

« Moreover, the content of his communications demonstrates that he knew the use to which the leaked information would be put by Davie, Davie lobbyists and the media. »

The Crown alleges Norman leaked information — including behind-the-scenes details related to the supply ship program and the cabinet discussions about it — to an executive at the Davie Shipyard in Levis, Que., using his personal Gmail account.

The leaks, according to court records, started on Oct. 3, 2014 and continued into November 2015, when the future of the project was hanging in the balance.

That timeline covers a much longer period than the original allegation did, and includes months before and after the former Conservative government signed a letter of intent with the shipyard to lease the badly-needed vessel.

The newly-elected Liberal cabinet moved on Nov. 19, 2015 to put the project on hold, but word leaked to the media and Cudmore broke the story. The decision was reversed days later after a political controversy erupted. Furious, the government ordered an RCMP investigation after an internal probe failed to pinpoint the leak.

The Crown submission quotes from emails Norman allegedly wrote and claims he was the primary source of Cudmore’s story.

« This case will come down to to one issue: whether Mark Norman’s repeated, continuous, covert leaking of confidential information to Davie and the media was done with criminal intent, » said the court documents.

Nasty and personal

« We say it was because, by his own words and by ready inference, his conduct was designed and intended to dishonestly corrupt and oppress the decision-making process of cabinet, the principle of cabinet confidence and the lawful and accountable decision-making process to be followed by civil servants. »

The Crown did not release actual copies of the emails as part of its submission.

But the quotes it shared with the public pull back the curtain on the nasty (and sometimes personal) political and bureaucratic battles that went on over the supply ship contract.

At one point, the documents allege, Norman and Davie executive Spencer Fraser conspired to discredit the head defence procurement official, retired rear-admiral Pat Finn, who opposed the lease plan.

Another email allegedly quotes Norman taking a profane swipe at former chief of the defence staff and retired general Tom Lawson, who apparently did not support the project either.

Dave Perry, a procurement expert at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said that if anything, the emails reveal senior levels of the federal government are like workplaces everywhere — where frustration with the boss is « not necessarily PG material. »

He said we are only getting snippets of conversations in the court filing — not enough to evaluate the strength of the Crown’s case.

« I would reserve judgment on the overall intent [of Vice Admiral Norman] until I see what’s actually behind this, » Perry said.

A high bar to hit

The legal bar that the Crown will have to meet in order to prove a breach of trust has been set fairly high by the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2006, justices on the high court said prosecutors must prove not only criminal intent but also personal benefit to the accused.

Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, a military and access-to-information law expert, said evidence meeting that standard was not spelled out very clearly in the Crown’s court filing, but may become evident in next year’s trial.

Proving that Norman had something « personal and material » to gain is « absolutely crucial, » he said.

Prosecutors said many of the issues touched on in earlier court filings — such as the claims of political interference raised by Norman’s defence team, headed by Toronto lawyer Marie Henein — are irrelevant.

The Court « should not wade into the realm of politics to second-guess the decisions of ministers, cabinet or government on non-legal issues, » the Crown’s submission said.

There are well-established mechanisms for officials who disagree with cabinet decisions, and the Crown submission even suggests at one point that Norman could have become an official whistleblower within the system.

‘Subterfuge and deceit’

« The defence’s position that Mr. Norman’s conduct in secretly releasing confidential information could somehow be excused because he felt civil servants were not doing what he thought was in Canada’s best interest, or what individual ministers wanted them to do, is remarkable to say the least, » the submission said.

« This Court could never countenance an irresponsible, unlawful approach to dispute resolution that would see a senior member of the military ignore his lawful duties and instead embark on an agenda of subterfuge and deceit. »

Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Erin O’Toole said he was surprised to see the scope of the Crown’s case open up to include the former government.

And that, he said, makes the release of the government documents sought by Norman’s lawyers even more important.

« I was intimately aware of a decision with respect to an interim [supply ship] and saw zero influence on the process by Mark Norman, » O’Toole said. « I would be happy to waive and be involved in waving cabinet confidence in relation to the Conservative cabinet’s decision. And I know former prime minister Stephen Harper would be as well. »

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Government staffer named in Mark Norman document leak case suspended from job

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A junior procurement official named in the criminal case against the military’s former second-in-command has been suspended from his federal government position, a House of Commons committee has been told.

Matthew Matchett was identified in court documents filed by the lawyers defending Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who has been charged with a single count of breach of trust.

The revelation is the latest twist in the high-stakes prosecution of Norman, the former vice chief of the defence staff, who is accused by the RCMP of leaking cabinet secrets.

Les Linklater, an associate deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada, told the Commons government operations committee late Thursday that Matchett has been suspended from his federal government job.

He said he was unable to state when it happened and refused to discuss the circumstances of Matchett’s suspension, including the reasons for it.

« I’m not at liberty to get into personnel management issues, » Linklater said when questioned by Conservative MP Kelly McCauley.

Les Linklater, a senior government official, disclosed the suspension of Mathew Matchett during a Commons committee on Thursday 0:54

Matchett has not been charged with any offence.

The Mounties acknowledged at the outset of their investigation into Norman that they were looking into more than one breach of secrecy linked to a cabinet committee meeting on shipbuilding early in the Liberal government’s mandate.

In asking the court last month to force the federal government to disclose documents, Norman’s lawyer Marie Henein claimed the federal police force had identified another source for the leak.

« The RCMP’s investigation discovered that a government employee, Matthew Matchett, gave a lobbyist then working for Davie the classified Memorandum to Cabinet (« MC ») and slide deck relating to the Liberal Government’s November 19, 2015 iAOR Cabinet committee meeting, » Henein wrote in an October court filing.

The Mounties refused to comment when asked about Matchett in October, saying that the investigation into the breaches of cabinet secrecy was ongoing.

In a subsequent court filing, Henein claimed that the Mounties had not yet interviewed Matchett.

Email exchanges released by the court this month suggest Matchett leaked a memorandum to cabinet and a slide presentation to an Ottawa lobbyist, Brian Mersereau, in the days leading up to the cabinet meeting in question.

At that meeting, the newly elected Liberal government chose to put a $668 million program to lease a supply ship for the navy on hold. Word of the decision immediately leaked to the media and cabinet eventually reversed course and allowed the project with the Davie Shipyard, in Levis, Que., to proceed.

Cabinet ministers were furious, however, and after an internal government investigation failed to determine the source, the RCMP were called in.

A detailed reference to Matchett was contained in over 700 pages of documents linked to Norman’s case and released by the court two weeks ago.

The documents include excerpts of emails and RCMP witness statements — records that have not been tested in court and may not be entered as evidence by the Crown.

In one email, Matchett allegedly tells Mersereau on Nov, 17, 2015, that he had « got everything — the motherload. »

Mersereau, of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, told the Mounties in an interview that a brown envelope with the cabinet documents appeared the next day at his downtown Ottawa office.

At the time, Matchett was working for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, but later moved on to a position at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

CBC News has reached out to Matchett on several occasions since his name appeared in the court documents and has not received a response.

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Shipbuilding ‘smoke and mirrors’ unlikely to distract from Mark Norman case: experts

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The Liberal government’s plan to divide an enormous amount of maintenance work on the navy’s frigates among three of the country’s major shipyards likely won’t calm a political brawl over the criminal case involving the military’s former second-in-command, experts said Thursday.

It’s also unlikely to do much to mollify the cutthroat competitive reflexes of the corporate interests involved — which also have been laid bare by the prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

The federal government’s plan for up to $7 billion in maintenance work over the next few decades was announced today in a press release.

Public Services and Procurement Canada announced it intends to award repair and maintenance contracts on the 12 warships to Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax, the Davie Shipyard in Levis, Que. and Seaspan’s Victoria Shipyards in British Columbia.

On the surface, the advance contract award notices that went out to the three yards look like an example of a tidy, time-honoured political solution to braying regional economic interests: spreading the money around.

But the stakes for the Liberals are higher, given their promise during the last election campaign to fix procurement and substantially invest in the navy.

Keeping up appearances

The Trudeau government also has a compelling political interest in demonstrating (at least for appearances’ sake) that shipbuilding is not the bureaucratic and corporate gong show portrayed in recent court filings by Norman’s defence team.

Norman, the former commander of the navy, was charged with one count of breach of trust after being accused of leaking cabinet secrets in 2015 to executives at the Davie shipyard in relation to a separate $668 million project to lease a temporary supply ship.

His case has been erupting in question period and before parliamentary committees ever since. Today, Treasury Board President Scott Brison faced an opposition grilling over suggestions of contacts between himself and Irving Shipbuilding.

He denied — again — having contact with the powerful company.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison denied again today having contact with Irving Shipbuilding over the supply ship project. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Norman’s lawyers have asked the court to force the government to hand over documents related to the supply ship project. In the process, they have painted a picture of political corruption and a procurement system where senior bureaucrats allegedly have worked to defy cabinet directives.

One defence expert said the Liberals are eager to dispense with that perception by playing up the billions of dollars that were going to be spent on vessel maintenance regardless, and by tying it to the national shipbuilding strategy.

« With the election now less than a year away, the Liberals have to have something where they can say, ‘See, we’re keeping to our promises,' » said Rob Huebert of the University of Calgary.

« Problem is, it’s mostly smoke and mirrors. You need to maintain the navy. »

The announcement, he said, also distracts from the modest progress the strategy has made in actually delivering ships to both the navy and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Irving Shipbuilding has made headway in construction of five Arctic ships and the federal government recently announced it preferred a Lockheed Martin-BAE Systems design for the new frigates.

As of last summer, Seaspan was working to correct welding defects in the first three fisheries science vessels.

Timelines on many projects have either slipped or have remained indefinite.

The coast guard’s dire need for icebreakers prompted the Liberals earlier this year to direct a contract to Davie for the conversion of civilian icebreakers for coast guard use.

‘Play nice’

The Quebec company is not one of the federal government’s go-to shipyards for construction of new vessels and has been relentless in pitching unsolicited projects — much to the chagrin of both Irving and Seaspan.

Dave Perry, a procurement expert with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said the new frigate maintenance project does not change the yardsticks for the shipbuilding strategy.

It also does not guarantee an end to the behind-the-scenes corporate warfare that has fuelled the criminal case against Norman.

The repair and overhaul contract « is a solid revenue stream » for the companies involved, Perry said. « Whether that will make everyone play nice with each other, I have learned not be optimistic about that. »

There is also an uncomfortable (and as far as the Liberal government is concerned, unspoken) aspect of this matter — that the frigate repair announcement is directing billions of dollars toward a company that been accused of receiving illegally-leaked cabinet secrets.

Perry said he believes the publicity surrounding the Norman case has hurt Davie’s attempts to drum up business elsewhere.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s visit to Davie Shipyard was upstaged by the federal government’s announcement of maintenance contracts. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Today’s announcement also upstaged Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who visited the Davie Shipyard on Thursday.

« It’s interesting they chose today to make this announcement, » Scheer told reporters in Quebec City. « We’ve been saying for some time they have been neglecting the Davie shipyard. »

The Liberal government also is planning another big shipbuilding announcement at the Irving yard in Halifax for Friday morning — just as lawyers in the Norman case return to court to argue over the disclosure of documents. Maybe it’s a coincidence.

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Scott Brison denies lobbying for shipbuilder in Mark Norman affair

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A senior Liberal cabinet minister denied Tuesday lobbying on behalf of one of the country’s leading shipbuilders, which has been swept up in the court fight surrounding the military’s former second-in-command.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison faced a second day of questions in the House of Commons over what contacts he had with Irving Shipbuilding of Halifax prior to a key cabinet committee meeting at the heart of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

Court documents filed last week alleged that Brison had a « close relationship » with the shipyard and that he was fronting an effort to scuttle a proposal from rival Davie Shipyard, of Levis, Que. in the fall of 2015.

« The only engagement I had with Irving Shipbuilding during the period in question was being copied on a letter sent to two other ministers, » he told the Commons, referring to a letter the company sent to four cabinet ministers, extolling the virtues of their proposal.

« My job as Treasury Board president includes expenditure review and due diligence to ensure the integrity of government contracting. That is exactly what I did, my job. »

The political, bureaucratic and corporate tug-of-war over acquiring a leased supply ship for the navy is underpinning the Crown’s case against Norman.

He was charged last spring with a single count of breach trust.

Prosecutors allege the former vice chief of defence staff favoured a $668 million proposal by the Davie yard. When the newly elected Liberal government wanted to pause the project, Norman allegedly leaked word of the secret decision of the cabinet committee.

At the time, he was head of the navy.

‘Obstructing justice’

The ensuing political uproar over the possible cancellation forced the Liberals to back down and the ship was eventually completed and has now entered service.

The leak to CBC News became the basis of an RCMP investigation. The reporter who wrote the story, James Cudmore, left journalism shortly afterwards and went to work as a policy advisor in Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office.

The disclosure motion, which has put Brison in the crosshairs of the Conservative opposition, was filed on Friday by Norman’s lawyers who are asking the court to release a trove of secret and confidential documents related to the handling of the leased supply ship program.

The prime minister’s office, according to the court documents, is blocking the release of the information. Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen said officials were « in essence, obstructing justice » by blocking the naval officer’s right to a fair trial.

Hiding behind the courts

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he wasn’t prepared to comment about an ongoing court proceeding.

« Due process will apply and justice will be done, » he said. « I am sure the honourable member knows that criminal prosecutions are not pursued on the floor of the House of Commons. »

The Conservatives, however, countered that the case had already been politicized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who on two occasions, before charges were laid, made remarks which Norman’s lawyers seized on in the court filing.

Asked about the investigation on April 6, 2017, Trudeau said he believed the matter « will likely end up before the courts » and then on Feb. 1, 2018, he stated the RCMP investigation would « inevitably » lead to « court processes. »

Lisa Raitt, the Conservative deputy leader, said Goodale is trying to hide behind the court process by saying it’s improper to comment.

« Maybe he should tell that to the prime minister who deemed even before an investigation had concluded that the admiral would be charged, » she said.

« For a government that is in love with the Constitution, I really thought it would understand that the right to a fair defence and the right to procedural fairness of the individual would trump their desire to hide some uncomfortable things that were probably said at a cabinet meeting.

Why is the government putting its self-interest above somebody’s defence? »

The Crown and Norman’s lawyers will be in court Nov. 2 to argue over the disclosure of documents.

A trial is not expected until next summer.

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RCMP probe of cabinet leaks did not stop with Mark Norman

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The criminal investigation into the alleged leak of cabinet secrets over a multi-million dollar shipbuilding program almost three years ago did not stop with Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, as the RCMP confirmed Sunday the probe is ongoing.

The Mounties issued the statement after court documents filed Friday alleged police had evidence that a federal procurement official passed cabinet documents to a lobbyist working for Quebec shipyard prior to a key meeting in the fall of 2015.

The documents were filed in an Ottawa court by lawyers defending Norman, who faces one charge of breach of trust  after being accused of leaking cabinet secrets to an executive at the Davie shipyard in ​Lévis, Que. 

« The RCMP’s investigation discovered that a government employee, Matthew Matchett, gave a lobbyist then working for Davie the classified Memorandum to Cabinet (« MC ») and slide deck relating to the Liberal Government’s November 19, 2015 iAOR Cabinet committee meeting, » said the court filing, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News.

None of the allegations in the disclosure motion have been proven in court.

Matchett, according to the federal government employee registry, is the Assistant Director, Industrial Benefits for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. No charges have been filed against him.

CBC News reached out to Matchett on Saturday and Sunday but received no response. 

Stéphanie Dumoulin, a spokesperson for the RCMP would only confirm the investigation is still active the federal police force is « therefore unable to further comment at this point. »

She would not answer specific questions related to the court filing.

Lawyers want info on other leaks

The notion that there might be suspects other than Norman came to light last year in the RCMP search warrants, one of which was used to raid Norman’s home.

His lawyer, Marie Henein, has asked the court to force the government to release documents « relating to Mr. Matchett’s leaks and how his case was treated internally and by the RCMP. »

The disclosure motion alleged Matchett provided Hill + Knowlton lobbyist Brian Mersereau with documents and regular updates in the run-up to a crucial federal cabinet committee meeting on Nov. 19, 2015.

Mersereau and an executive at the Davie shipyard, Spencer Fraser, have been granted immunity, according to the court filing.

At the cabinet committee meeting, the fate of a program to lease a temporary supply ship for the navy was up for discussion.

The Liberal cabinet ministers decided to put the $668 million plan, originally conceived under the previous Conservative government, on hold for further study, but word quickly leaked to the media.

The Liberals eventually allowed the temporary supply ship program to proceed and the MV Asterix is now serving alongside the navy.

RCMP alleged, in their search warrant, that Norman orchestrated the leak to CBC News reporter James Cudmore, who later went to work in the defence minister’s office as a policy advisor.

The Liberals were embarrassed and ordered an RCMP investigation.

The MV Asterix, the navy’s planned temporary supply ship, at the Chantier-Davie Shipyard in Levis, Quebec in early July 2017. The contract to lease the vessel to the federal government is at the centre of an RCMP investigation into the leak of cabinet secrets.

Norman’s lawyers denied that he leaked any documents and have said they want more information on the role of the civil servant.

« Mr. Matchett’s leaks of classified documents relate to the very same Cabinet meetings and subject matter at the centre of this prosecution, » said the disclosure motion.

It also notes the second suspect has not given the RCMP a statement related to the case against Norman.

‘It is jaw-dropping’

A legal expert following the case said the federal government will have a hard time avoiding the release of documents related to its investigation of Matchett.

Government representatives cannot hide behind an ongoing police investigation, according to retired colonel Michel Drapeau,

« They have a duty to disclose, » he said.

« If they don’t disclose on this point, the first thing that will happen at trial is that [Vice-Admiral Norman’s] lawyer will say her client is denied fair treatment. »

If the allegations in the disclosure motion are accurate, a defence expert said that both the RCMP and the Liberal government have a lot of explaining to do.

« It is incomprehensible, » said Dave Perry, an analyst at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

« It is a bit gob-smacking that someone who is now named — Mr. Matchett there — provided an actual cabinet document that was actually involved in this and that person does not seem to have been prosecuted. »

It’s also unclear whether there has been any internal government sanctions taken in regards to the alleged leak of documents.

« It is jaw-dropping, » said Perry.

Norman does not go to trial until next August.

The case will be in court again on Nov. 2 Lawyers are expected to discuss the disclosure motion then.

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Lawyers in Mark Norman case take aim at Liberal minister, court documents reveal

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Lawyers defending Vice-Admiral Mark Norman have taken aim at one of the Liberal government’s senior cabinet ministers in a court filing, alleging political interference in the program to deliver an interim supply ship to the navy.

The former second-in-command of the Canadian military faces one charge of breach of trust after being accused of leaking cabinet secrets to the Davie shipyard in ​Lévis, Que., which was proposing a $668 million lease arrangement with the federal government.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison will be the Crown’s most important witnesses, and lawyers for Norman went to court Friday to force the government to disclose documents pertinent to his defence.

Prosecutors allege the former vice-chief of the defence staff, when he was head of the navy, disclosed classified information to shipyard executives, which eventually found its way to the media and was published by CBC News reporter James Cudmore, who was later hired as a policy adviser to the defence minister.

The motion seeking the documents was filed in an Ottawa court. A copy of that motion was obtained by CBC News.

The MV Asterix, the navy’s planned temporary supply ship, at the Davie shipyard in ​Lévis, Que., in early July 2017. The contract to lease the vessel to the federal government was at the centre of an RCMP investigation into the leak of cabinet secrets.

The Liberal government, newly elected in November 2015, sought to delay the supply ship lease project, and Norman’s lawyer Marie Henein wrote the defence believes « Brison was behind the effort to delay and potentially terminate the Davie agreement » and that he may have done so at the behest of corporate rival, Irving Shipbuilding, of Halifax.

« Minister Brison appears to be close to the Irvings, » said the court filing. « He has frequently been lobbied by James Irving on behalf of the company. »

Part of Brison’s job as head of the Treasury Board is to examine and challenge government spending decisions.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

A spokesperson for Brison would not comment on the court filing, but the minister has in the past denied any wrongdoing.

Similarly, a spokesperson for Irving Shipbuilding said Saturday that there was nothing improper in the company’s communication with the Liberal government over the temporary supply ship program, in which it had also submitted a proposal.

« We expressed our concerns with the procurement process to the new government as part of an ongoing transparent dialogue, » Sean Lewis said in an email. 

« Our outreach highlighted our concerns and requested that our proposal be fairly evaluated. Other shipbuilders who also participated in the process to provide a [supply ship] solution also expressed concern with the project and how the government made its decision. »

Upcoming trial begins during election

The motion provides a taste of the political minefield that’s ahead for Liberals next year when Norman’s case goes to trial, likely during the next federal election campaign.

Henein is demanding government disclose all communication between Brison’s office and the Irvings prior to a crucial cabinet committee meeting on Nov. 19, 2015.

It was at that meeting the Liberal government decided to risk a multi-million dollar penalty and put the supply ship program on hold.

News of the pause leaked to the media, which the RCMP allege was orchestrated by Norman. The government eventually proceeded with the program.

The Liberals, however, were embarrassed. They ordered an RCMP probe and Brison told investigators the leak prevented cabinet from doing its job.

How the cabinet decision leaked

Henein pushed back, in the court filing on Friday, revealing — for the first time —  that the federal police investigation had identified how some documents prepared for cabinet made their way into the hands of lobbyists.

« The RCMP’s investigation discovered that a government employee, Matthew Matchett, gave a lobbyist then working for Davie the classified Memorandum to Cabinet (« MC ») and slide deck relating to the Liberal Government’s November 19, 2015 … Cabinet committee meeting, » said the court documents.

There is no allegation that [Vice-Admiral] Norman provided documents protected by cabinet confidences to anybody.– Court filing

The documents noted Matchett had not been charged, and that both a Davie executive and a lobbyist had been granted immunity from prosecution. 

« There is no allegation that [Vice-Admiral] Norman provided documents protected by cabinet confidences to anybody. »

CBC News reached out on Saturday to Matchett but received no response.

Defence lawyer Marie Henein wrote that, contrary to the prosecution’s claim, Norman was leaned on by the previous Conservative government to deliver the program. (CBC)

‘No evidence of any personal benefit’

The documents also alleged an internal government investigation into how the cabinet decision leaked found that there were in fact six separate leaks and 73 people within the bureaucracy knew the outcome of the meeting.

The RCMP alleges in a search warrant, released publicly last year, that Norman leaked the information in order to ensure that the interim supply ship program went forward and that it was his preferred option.

In order to prove breach of trust, the Crown must demonstrate that the accused had something personal to gain.

Henein wrote that, contrary to the prosecution’s claim, Norman was leaned on by the previous Conservative government to deliver the program.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government signed the initial contract with the shipyard, but it was left to the Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to implement it.

There is no evidence of any personal benefit to [Vice-Admiral] Norman or of any other ‘dishonest, partial, corrupt, or oppressive purpose.’– Court filing

« There is no evidence of any personal benefit to [Vice-Admiral] Norman or of any other ‘dishonest, partial, corrupt, or oppressive purpose,' » said the filing.

« He worked to deliver what elected government wanted, what the Navy needed, and what was in the interest of all Canadians. He obtained absolutely no personal benefit. »

Defence’s allegations

Norman’s defence alleges that senior defence and public works officials, who opposed the leased supply ship program, worked to kill it, contrary to the direction of the previous Conservative government.

Henein has asked the Crown to waive cabinet secrecy on all documents related to the case and thus far has been rebuffed.

« The Prime Minister through the Office of the Privy Council has refused to waive any Cabinet confidences except those required to prosecute [Vice-Admiral] Norman, » she wrote.

« The [Privy Council Office] initiated the RCMP investigation, yet it controls the entire flow of information and has to date refused to provide any transparency. »

The defence team also alleged the government retroactively invoked secrecy on documents investigators had deemed not confidential.

They pointed to a letter sent to Brison, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and former procurement minister Judy Foote by the Irvings, prior to the controversial cabinet meeting, as proof.

« Although the RCMP asserted that the Irving letter was not classified, the PCO now claims that the letter would in fact be a Cabinet confidence, » said the court documents.

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