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Vice Adm. Mark Norman and Gen. Vance hold first meeting but naval officer still not back on the job

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance and Vice-Admiral Mark Norman on their way to court, separately, on Jan. 30, 2019.
Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance and Vice-Admiral Mark Norman on their way to court, separately, on Jan. 30, 2019.

Vice Adm. Mark Norman has met with defence chief Gen. Jon Vance for what is being described by the Defence department as a “cordial discussion” between the two officers.

Norman has yet to return to National Defence headquarters in Ottawa and has declined to go into details about what his future plans are.

Norman, who had been suspended by Vance in January 2017 after allegations from the RCMP, has said he wants to return to his job as vice chief of the defence staff.

He had been charged with one count of breach of trust after the RCMP alleged he had promoted a plan by Davie Shipbuilding in Quebec to convert a commercial ship into a naval refuelling and supply vessel. The federal police force also alleged that Norman tipped off Davie in the fall of 2015 that the Liberal government was considering delaying the project which had been set in motion by the previous Conservative government.

The case against Norman collapsed May 8 because of new evidence. Norman, who entered a plea of not guilty, always maintained he had done nothing wrong.

After the decision by the Crown to stay the charge, the federal government stated it would pay Norman’s legal fees and Vance issued a statement about the naval officer noting he looked “forward to welcoming him back to work as soon as possible.” The statement did not discuss what position Norman would take over.

The Department of National Defence confirmed Friday the Norman and Vance had an initial meeting. “The Chief of the Defence Staff and VAdm Norman met early this week and had a cordial discussion,” the Department of National Defence noted in a statement. “As discussions are ongoing, further information will be made available in due course.”

Prosecutors told the court that based on new evidence there was no likelihood of a conviction against Norman. It is unknown what that evidence was but sources say at least some of it is linked to information that the former Conservative government was behind the Davie deal and Norman was simply following their orders. During pre-trial hearings, Norman’s lawyers alleged that the Liberal government was politically interfering in the case. Government officials denied that was the case.

Shortly after the charged was stayed, Norman told journalists that, “I believe that for me and for the Canadian Armed Forces the best choice would be for me to go back into my former position.”

The position of vice chief of the defence staff is currently occupied by Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnyk.

The vice chief of the defence staff is the second highest ranking military position in the Canadian Forces.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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