OTTAWA – Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s legal team is demanding the federal government release dozens of documents that officials have deemed cabinet secrets, but which Norman’s lawyers say they need to properly defend their client in court.
The request is detailed in a court filing from Norman’s lawyers obtained by The Canadian Press, and represents the latest twist in what has already been a high-profile – and highly politicized – legal battle between the senior military officer and the federal government.
Norman was charged in March with one count of breach of trust for allegedly leaking government secrets – known as “cabinet confidences” – to Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding after the Liberals paused a shipbuilding project in November 2015. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Among the records Norman’s lawyers are demanding are briefing notes, reports and emails shared among cabinet ministers and other senior officials related to the project to convert a civilian ship into a temporary resupply vessel for the navy.
They also want to see the results of any investigations into several other alleged leaks about the project and all communication between Treasury Board President Scott Brison, who was instrumental in pausing the project, and Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding, which wanted the project for itself.
Legal expert Craig Forcese of the University of Ottawa says the request could have real impact on the case as, if the court agrees that they are needed, officials will have to either produce the documents or risk having the case against Norman thrown out.