Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the police investigation into Vice-Admiral Mark Norman will “inevitably” lead to “court processes,” even though the military’s second-highest ranked officer has not yet been charged with any crime.
The prime minister made the comments at a townhall event in Edmonton on Thursday, after one audience member characterized the year-long RCMP investigation of Norman as a “witch hunt.”
“When is your government going to cease the witch hunt that has been done on Vice-Admiral Mark Norman? Here is a man who has served his country faithfully and well for more than 30 years,” the audience member said.
Court documents show the Mounties suspect Norman leaked cabinet secrets to a Quebec shipyard in November 2015 over fears the Liberals would cancel a key shipbuilding project.
Norman was suspended from his position as the vice chief of defence staff in January 2017, but he has not been charged with any crime and Norman’s lawyer has denied her client did anything wrong.
In response to the question, Trudeau said that the “the leaking of cabinet secrets doesn’t happen every day and it’s something that we have to take very, very seriously.”
The prime minister added that the case against Norman was “very much underway in terms of investigation and inevitably court processes,” though he did not elaborate or provide reasons for that assessment.
RCMP spokeswoman Stephanie Dumoulin said Friday that the investigation is ongoing, but would not comment further.
Trudeau also predicted last April that Norman’s case would end up in court, which the Conservatives have cited as political interference amid widespread questions about the length of the investigation.
“After dedicating his life to the Canadian Armed Forces, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s career has been put on hold for over a year,” Conservative defence critic James Bezan said during question period on Thursday.
“Why is the prime minister politically interfering in Vice-Admiral Norman’s case and denying him his right, yes, his right, to due process by taking so long?”