In The Media

The RCMP vs. Mark Norman: it’s about more than just leaks

by Murray Brewster (feat. Dave Perry)

CBC News
March 10, 2018

For those in the Ottawa establishment who've quietly cheered on the RCMP investigation into the country's second-highest military commander, the charge laid against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman may become a scalding lesson in being careful what you wish for.

Despite being dressed up in the sexy language of an information leak, the heart of the scandal is really about politics, power, money and military procurement — or the lack thereof.

The single charge of breach of trust was laid against Norman on Friday by the same RCMP unit which investigated the Senate expense scandal — the sensitive and international investigations section.

Remember them?

The Mounties' case against Sen. Mike Duffy got hung up on the grey, fuzzy upper chamber rules surrounding expense claims and principal places of residence.

He was acquitted.

In this latest go-around, the RCMP are investigating Norman for allegedly blabbing to a Chantier-Davie shipyard executive about a cabinet decision on a preliminary, sole-source contract that was being put into limbo and in danger of possibly being killed.

Let's set aside — for a minute — the vague rules surrounding federal officials communicating with companies under preliminary contract and whether they are, or are not, entitled to hear sensitive information.

The search warrants used by the Mounties to raid Norman's home, two Ottawa lobbying firms and the Levis, Que., shipyard, which was about to lease a supply ship to the navy, offer a tantalizing glimpse of the political, bureaucrat and business fecal storm that's ahead.

Emails attached to the warrants "contained all sorts of salty language between Admiral Norman and some other people," said Dave Perry, an analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a expert in procurement. "Do you think that was isolated just to him? I don't."

The Duffy trial called into question the integrity of the Senate.

The peril here is much wider.

As the military No. 2 and the former commander of the navy, Norman has, for almost a decade, been at the nexus of politics, defence and bureaucratic establishments in Ottawa.

Potential embarrassment

It may be stretching it to say he knows where all the bodies are buried, but his institutional knowledge will almost certainly make life uncomfortable for many.

"As much as the Duffy thing got involved in a bunch of dirty laundry, I think this has the potential to be worse by orders of magnitude," said Perry.

First of all, there is — what Perry calls — "the regional political dynamic."

The court records show Norman was convinced that Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding wanted to kill the $670 million Davie shipyard lease arrangement and replace it with its own proposal.

A court case against Norman could see whatever contacts the notoriously media-shy Irvings have had with politicians and the bureaucracy, regardless of how innocent, dragged into the spotlight.

The Liberals could be forced to answer questions about the hiring of former CBC journalist James Cudmore, whose stories initially embarrassed the government.

And then, there is the greatest money swamp of all — defence procurement.

Long delays

Perry said the Norman case has the potential to touch on files that are "sensitive and ongoing."

The National Shipbuilding Strategy, started by the Conservatives but championed by the Liberals, is in trouble.

The reason the navy needed a leased cargo ship in the first place is because Seaspan, the Vancouver Shipyard where permanent supply ships are being built, is far behind schedule even after a $230 million design and preliminary work contract was announced last year.

The assistant deputy minister of materiel at National Defence, Pat Finn, recently said it would be 2022 before the first of two joint support ships arrive.

The reasons for that have never been fully explored in public.

And then there is the unusual decision by the former Conservative cabinet, on the eve of the last election, to rewrite sole-source regulations in order to push through that temporary supply ship from Davie.

It is a significant decision which has also never been given a full public airing.

"You would have to have lots of discussions about shipbuilding politics in order for this to go to trial," said Perry. "There is probably a lot of different things that people won't want aired; connections with lobbyist. I just think there's going to be all kinds of stuff."

 


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
SEARCH
PODCAST

An Update on the NAFTA Renegotiations

May 21, 2018


On today's Global Exchange Podcast, we touch base with CGAI's North American trade experts in light of a busy week on the NAFTA file in Washington. After months of hard-pressed negotiations, and 6 weeks of 'perpetual' discussions in Washington, the deal has reached its next turning point, with Congressional leadership signalling that they'd need a new deal by May 17th in order to have it passed before U.S. mid-term elections in the Fall. With no deal in sight, and the Congressional deadline now in the rear-view mirror, we sit down with Sarah Goldfeder, Laura Dawson, and Eric Miller to ask where we go from here.


IN THE MEDIA

AUDIO: No U.S.-Korea Summit

with Danielle Smith (feat. James Trottier), Global News Radio, May 24, 2018

VIDEO: La France Désavoue Michaëlle Jean

with Anne-Marie Dussault (feat. Jocelyn Coulon), Radio-Canada 24/60, May 23, 2018


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 4K9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: contact@cgai.ca
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2018 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email