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MARK BONOKOSKI: Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and the sinking of the HMCS Trudeau

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman
Vice-Admiral Mark Norman - Contributed

Seeing as the Trudeau Liberals and their vainglorious leader have been rattled to the gunnels by silly antics, ethics breaches, leaks, miscalculations and scandals, the mere mention of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s name must bring on visions of yet another hell on the horizon.

His preliminary hearing in Ottawa for allegedly leaking government secrets to influence cabinet’s decision on a $700 million shipbuilding contract with Quebec’s Davie shipyard has been moving with the slowness of a snail, and will not resume again until May 8.

Admiral Norman, who has denied any wrongdoing, has hired a marquee defence team from Toronto, headed by Marie Henein, best known eviscerating the accusers of former CBC radio star Jian Ghomeshi that saw him acquitted of a lengthy list of sexual assault charges.

When and if Justice Heather Perkins-McVey decides whether there is enough evidence to send Norman to trial, that criminal proceeding will occur smack-dab in the middle of the final leg of Justin Trudeau’s run for re-election.

After ethics breaches, illegal holidays, an embarrassing dress-up trip to India, the burning of bridges to vital trade relationships, the bouncing of two key cabinet ministers, the resignation of his best friend and principal advisor, the early retirement of the Clerk of the Privy Council, carbon-tax fights with five very pissed-off premiers and the Lavscam scandal, the last thing Trudeau needs is another bump in the road.

But Norman looms large as that bump, just like the trial of an innocent ‘Ol Duff for senatorial expense jiggery-pokery did nothing to help Stephen Harper and the Conservatives during the 2015 election.

Norman is not some ordinary seaman, after all, but the second-in-command of Canada’s entire armed forces, albeit now suspended.

Defence counsel is presently focused on outgoing Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, who wrote his goodbye Thursday, and how he blew his cover of solicitor-client privilege when he spoke publicly of Norman during the Commons justice committee doing its shallow dive into the Lavscam scandal.

One of Norman’s lawyer, Christine Manville, argued that despite the government claiming privilege for documents by Wernick related to the case, they should be released to the defence because Wernick himself told the justice committee that “the easiest way to deal with the Norman matter was to let the judge decide what is relevant.”

The key document the defence wants to get its dubs on is an uncensored copy of the 60-page memo Wernick wrote to Trudeau on the Norman affair, claiming the document is vital to mounting a solid defence for the admiral.

And then, of course, there is the spectre of Scott Brison, the long-time Liberal cabinet minister with Conservative roots, who suddenly resigned and fled government around the same time Norman went down.

Brison, a Nova Scotian, has long been associated with backing the Irving shipbuilding company in Halifax, the rival of Davie shipyard.

Norman’s defence is trying diligently to drag Brison into the mix, citing him as instrumental in the leak-prone cabinet meeting at the heart of the case.

It’s all very toxic with, like Lavscam, Trudeau and his inner circle standing accused of attempting to hold back key evidence that could potentially bring more damage to their already battered brand.

But, day by day, something new seems to surface.

And none of it good for the PM’s fading star.

markbonokoski@gmail.com

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