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Bev Norman was watching television in her home in the east-end Ottawa suburb of Orleans around 5 p. It was April 6, , and the prime minister was taking questions from journalists. Mark Norman was in the kitchen when an astonished Bev called out to him. The federal police force believed Norman had given confidential information to the shipbuilder, Davie, as well as to a CBC journalist in an attempt to prevent the Liberals from scuttling the deal.
Jon Vance, he had quickly responded by suspending Norman from his military duties. Mark came into the living room and the couple fumbled with their PVR to retrieve the news clip of Trudeau. For the Normans it was surreal moment, watching the leader of the country talking about an active legal case and predicting — roughly a year before any charge would be laid — that the naval officer was headed for court. Bev became very upset.
Norman jotted down what Trudeau had said, and immediately phoned his lawyer, Marie Henein, to tell her what happened. Later that evening Henein issued a statement to journalists. Politicians should not be commenting about whether a case would be going to trial, she noted. It was Henein, perhaps the highest-profile lawyer in the country, providing Trudeau with a way out if he wanted to take it. But almost a year later Trudeau was back at it, again predicting at a televised town hall in February that Norman was headed to trial, though he had still not been charged.
That Trudeau was once again speaking publicly about the case badly upset Bev, so as the couple watched, Norman kept his thoughts to himself. On May 8, prosecutors stayed that charge, ending a two-and-a-half-year-long ordeal for Norman and his family. In a press conference held shortly after he left court, Norman said he wants to tell Canadians his story. Under military regulations, however, Norman is restrained in what he can say in public. He could face a new charge under the Canadian Forces legal system if anything he says is seen to be critical of the senior military leadership or government.
At a November meeting of a cabinet committee on procurement, the newly elected Liberals decided to put the plan on hold, a decision which leaked almost immediately. Throughout police made the rounds in the small community, interviewing military officers, government officials and company executives, and seizing records from two lobbying firms that had worked for Davie.
Liberal cabinet minister Scott Brison had told police that the leak had caused significant damage. Norman assumed it was only a matter of time before he, too, would be interviewed by the RCMP.
There had been a series of internal battles within government over the plan and Norman had fought a number of those behind closed doors. He was well aware of the internal machinations surrounding the project. He had been in contact with Davie about their pitch to convert the Asterix and with their rival, Irving Shipbuilding, which later made a similar proposal to provide the navy with a supply ship. Unbeknownst to Norman, who had been elevated to vice-chief of the defence staff, making him second-in-command of the Canadian Forces, the Mounties had already conducted clandestine surveillance of him and his home in preparation for a raid.
At a. The vice-admiral was off that Monday and was about to take Bev, a veterinary assistant, to her office.
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When the vice-admiral said he was, the Mounties told him they had a warrant to search his home. Norman asked if his wife could leave for work and police agreed. Bev, who had no idea what was going on, was so upset she was visibly shaking. I talked to my supervisor and told her what was going on and they told me to go home.
At one point, Norman recalls, there were four officers sitting around his dining room table drinking coffee and laughing. The RCMP stayed for six hours, and seized a desktop computer, a laptop, two cell phones and three iPads, one owned by Bev. When Bev did arrive home, the Normans sat together trying to process what just happened. Even at that moment, I said this is such a waste of time. I really thought the RCMP would find material related to the project and realize there was nothing in there that would help them in what they were trying to do.
Then the phone rang. A senior officer from Gen. The Canadian Forces chief wanted to see Norman immediately. Shortly after p.
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The RCMP had already briefed the two men on their allegations against Norman and informed them of the raid. Vance also had a brief phone call with Trudeau to confirm that the prime minister was aware of the situation. Postmedia could not reach Forster for comment. DND said Forster was at the meeting because Norman, as vice-chief, reported to both Vance and the deputy minister.
Vance said he wanted a response from Norman within 24 hours, though he later relented and allowed for a few more days. He had no idea what the RCMP allegations were. All he had to go on was the page-and-a-half-long search warrant the RCMP had handed him when they arrived at his house that morning.
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They later told him he looked like he had seen a ghost. On Friday, Jan. Admiral Ron Lloyd would be appointed as acting vice-chief of the defence staff. Norman was given a letter formally suspending him from command. Vance would later suggest that in suspending Norman from his job he was actually trying to help. On the morning of Monday, Jan.
It took only 20 minutes to be leaked to the media. Norman had already predicted to Vance that the news would get out quickly, but even he was surprised how quickly journalists had secured a copy of the letter from inside defence headquarters. This particular unauthorized release of information was never investigated. Days previously, Norman had asked Vance how he would explain the suspension to the media. Norman said he got no answer save a vague response that Vance promised to figure out something.
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With the release of the letter, Vance ordered a blackout on all information about Norman. Vance had made the decision, Trudeau said, and his government fully backed its defence chief. The total lack of information fuelled gossipy theories in political, defence and media circles. Perhaps he was a Russian spy, others mused. The news got international attention. He started receiving emails from naval officers and commanders from around the globe, he said, including from the U. I was in shock. However, he provided no further explanation. Sajjan was sending a message to the U.
Norman said the government and military silence significantly damaged his reputation.
Norman needed legal representation. When he explained his predicament to the first counsel he met with, that lawyer told him there was one person better equipped than any other to defend him: Marie Henein.
Henein had become the preeminent defence lawyer in the country thanks to her successful defence of former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi on sexual assault charges. The lawyer made arrangements for the Normans to meet her, and he began travelling back and forth to Toronto for consultations. As much as possible Bev and Mark tried to maintain a sense of normality. Bev would go to her job at the veterinarian clinic.
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Mark was starting to help his legal team pull together what they needed. In the meantime, he renovated a bathroom in their house and exercised on a regular basis. It would take a year of treatments before he would be cleared to return to duty. This legal case was a similar thing. You take it a day at a time, a week at a time. Friends and family provided support. Norman paid particular attention to ensuring his daughter Holly knew exactly what was happening.
To her credit she was genuinely curious. She got it.