All of those are code names, the legal team for Vice-Admiral Mark Norman alleged before an Ottawa court on Tuesday, that were used by some in the military to hide information related to the court case of the country’s second-highest-level soldier.
Marie Henein, the defence lawyer representing Norman, presented to the court a list of names, code names and pseudonyms her team received following an access to information request that she argued show the military was trying to use to block information about Norman from being disclosed in public.
Doing so, as was alleged in court last month by a military member whose name is under a publication ban, would have the effect of making those records invisible to officials tasked with searching for them in order to fulfill access to information requests.
“It’s like a spider’s web,” Henein told the court, adding the list of pseudonyms also included “MN3,” “N3,” and “the Substantive VCDS.”
According to military officials, “Kraken” is a reference to CRCN, which is the abbreviation for Norman’s former role as 34th Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, as is “C34” and “The Boss.”
”MN3” and “N3” refer to Norman’s official email address, which includes the number three to reflect others in the military with the same name.
As well, “the Substantive VCDS” is, according to one military official, a tongue-in-cheek way of referring to Norman, who had been relieved of his duties as vice chief of defence staff but still held the rank associated with that job.
Two separate probes by the Office of the Information Commissioner and the military police have been launched to look into the allegation.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, the country’s top soldier, was expected to testify on Tuesday about those allegations and how the military handled communications around the case more broadly.
Instead, his appearance was moved to Wednesday morning.
Military staff could be seen prior to the start of the pre-trial hearing carting in boxes that officials said were full of communication records that Vance had been ordered to bring with him. They then carted boxes out of the court room after Vance’s appearance was moved.
Military officials say some of the boxes contain records of communications between Vance and reporters from Canadian media outlets, including Global News.
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Norman is charged with breach of trust for allegedly leaking information related to a plan by the then-newly elected Liberal government to freeze a deal to get the military a new supply ship to replace its last two that caught fire and rusted out.
He has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers allege the charge is politically motivated.
So far, Norman’s defence team has spent the morning questioning a paralegal from the Justice Department, who has been part of the teams assembled to process the disclosure of tens of thousands of documents requested by Henein in order to make her case that Norman is innocent.
The issue of disclosure has been a prominent one so far in this case, with accusations from the defence that they are being stonewalled by secretive government bodies, including the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office, which is its bureaucratic arm.
“I have no confidence that it’s all been captured,” Henein told the court as she ran through lists of requested documents still outstanding, as well as concerns that there may be information not being shared that is held in private email accounts of officials.
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Testimony has focused on the process of how requests for information from the defence were farmed out to government bodies and agencies, including the Department of National Defence.
That issue of who was handling the disclosure of relevant documents from the military is expected to form a key part of the questioning of Vance later this afternoon.
Lawyers for Scott Brison, a former Liberal MP and cabinet minister tied to the case, also appeared before the court to seek standing.
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