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Mark Norman to retire from Canadian Forces, but details of settlement with Liberal government to be kept secret

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman poses for a photo at his home in Ottawa Thursday May 16, 2019.
Vice-Admiral Mark Norman poses for a photo at his home in Ottawa Thursday May 16, 2019.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman will retire from the Canadian Forces after reaching an undisclosed settlement with the Department of National Defence.

Norman and the federal government reached a “mutually acceptable agreement, the details of which will remain confidential,” the Department of National Defence said in a statement Wednesday.

“Vice-Admiral Norman remains committed to the Navy, the Canadian Armed Forces and their mission,” the statement said. “However, after consulting with his family, his chain of command, and his counsel, VAdm Norman has decided to retire from the Canadian Armed Forces.”

“Both parties believe that this resolution will return focus to the critical work of the Canadian Forces, which is the protection of all Canadians,” said the statement.

“The Government of Canada thanks VAdm Norman for his 38 years of dedicated service, and wishes him well in all of his future endeavours.”

The deal was brokered with help from Warren Winkler, former Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Vice-Admiral Norman remains committed to the Navy, the Canadian Armed Forces and their mission

Norman, the former second-in-command of the Forces, was suspended from his job in January 2017 by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance after the RCMP presented him with allegations that Norman was responsible for the leak of confidential cabinet information related to a proposal by Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding to convert a commercial ship into a refuelling vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy.

Norman was later charged with one count of breach of trust, but on May 8 the charge was stayed after Norman’s defence team brought new evidence to prosecutors’ attention. Prosecutors told the court that based on the new evidence there was no likelihood of a conviction. It is not known what that evidence was, but sources have told Postmedia at least some of it was related to the former Conservative government’s push to keep the Davie deal on track, and suggested the communication Norman had with Davie that formed the basis for the charge simply showed Norman following orders. Norman, who had entered a plea of not guilty, always maintained he had done nothing wrong.

After the case against him collapsed, Norman told journalists he believed that “for me and for the Canadian Armed Forces the best choice would be for me to go back into my former position.”

Vance, too, issued a statement saying he looked “forward to welcoming (Norman) back to work as soon as possible.”

In May, the two met to discuss next steps. Mediation sessions between Norman and federal lawyers took place during the last two weeks of June. The result sees Norman retiring rather than returning to his previous post.

No date has yet been set for Norman’s retirement, DND said. Norman has yet to issue a comment on the latest development in his case.

After initially declining to pay Norman’s legal fees, the federal government announced after the staying of the charge that it would cover the costs, which are estimated to be more than $1 million.

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