Another former federal cabinet minister is defending Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and questioning the RCMP’s handling of the investigation.
Peter MacKay said it was surprising that key members of the Stephen Harper government were not interviewed by the police force during its probe of an alleged leak of sensitive information about a naval shipbuilding contract worth close to $700 million.
MacKay said the RCMP did speak with him on a “very narrow issue” of a single email exchange while he was still in government.
“They didn’t probe any further than that particular narrow issue and it is surprising that they didn’t speak to other members of the Conservative government,” he told The Roy Green Show on Saturday.
LISTEN: Peter MacKay joins The Roy Green Show
“It may have led them to perhaps conclude that there wasn’t sufficient grounds in the first place although it’s a different threshold, a lower threshold, but the Crown obviously came to that conclusion that they were not going to be able to secure a conviction.”
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On Wednesday, the Crown stayed a breach of trust charge laid in 2018 against Norman, who had been removed from his post as the second-highest ranking officer in the Canadian military the previous year.
The Crown revealed it did not have enough evidence to meet the standard of conviction required for the allegation in light of new evidence presented by the defence and third parties in a March 28 meeting between the Crown and Norman’s counsel.
The nature of that information is not clear.
Norman’s lawyer, Marie Henein, has also questioned why members of the Harper government were not interviewed.
“One of the things we said in court is that during the course of the investigation, although the (allegations) covered a significant part of the Harper-government time period, there were no witnesses interviewed from that time period,” she said on Wednesday.
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MacKay suggested the case was politically motivated, calling Norman’s case a “persecution” as opposed to a “prosecution.”
He said the RCMP “should have and could have availed themselves of a lot more information that was available.”
LISTEN: Peter MacKay joins Rob Breakenridge to discuss the Mark Norman case
“And I say it was available because the defence counsel went out and did their due diligence and spoke to people like myself and others and did what one would expect the RCMP to have done in a thorough investigation.”
Two other former Tory cabinet ministers — now-Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and MP Erin O’Toole — have also criticized the investigation and said they were interviewed by the vice-admiral’s legal team.
Kenney said he met with Norman’s lawyers for about two hours in Toronto last year.
“I gave them information which I believe would have helped with his exoneration had this case gone to trial,” he said.
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Asked about the investigation by the Canadian Press on Friday, the RCMP declined to comment on specifics because a second criminal case is still before the courts, involving a different public servant also accused of leaking details on the 2015 procurement deal.
But in a statement, the Mounties said they respected the Crown’s decision to drop the case before defending officers for having “conducted a thorough, independent and highly professional investigation.”
The Liberals have steadfastly maintained that there was no political interference in the case — something the director of public prosecutions echoed in a statement on Wednesday.
With files from Amanda Connolly and the Canadian Press.