The shipbuilding company at the centre of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s breach-of-trust case says it provided documents to the senior naval officer’s defence team in March.
The Quebec-based Chantier Davie Canada Inc. said on Monday that it gave Vice-Adm. Norman’s lawyers “a fulsome account of meetings and correspondence with bureaucrats and political staff." The Crown says it received new information that month that led it to abandon its case. The documents from Davie spanned the company’s conceptual presentation to the government through to the awarding of the contract – a process that took two years.
The charge against the former second-in-command in the Canadian military was suddenly stayed last week after the Crown said new documents provided by the defence gave more context regarding Vice-Adm. Norman’s actions surrounding the shipbuilding contract. Neither the Crown nor the defence disclosed the source of the documents.
Alex Vicefield, chairman and chief executive of Inocea Group, which owns Chantier Davie, confirmed in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that the documents were submitted to defence lawyers in March, but he would not provide specifics or say whether he believes the information Davie provided led to the Crown’s decision to stay the charge.
A source with knowledge of the Davie documents provided to the defence said they included e-mails and notes and showed a chronology of meetings related to the contract and that they provided context.
The source, who was granted anonymity by The Globe because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said the documents showed obstacles and challenges related to the contract within the department of national defence. They also showed that Vice-Adm. Norman was doing what he was asked, the source said.
Crown prosecutor Barbara Mercier said last week that the defence brought new information to the prosecution in late March, and lawyers on both sides discussed the matter on March 28.
“This new information definitely provided greater context to the conduct of Vice-Adm. Norman and revealed a number of complexities in the process that we were not aware of,” she said.
Last week, three former senior Conservative cabinet ministers who had knowledge of the naval procurement deal revealed that they had provided information to the defence about the contract through interviews, but did not mention if they provided any documents.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who was defence minister under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government at the time the contract was awarded, said he met with Vice-Adm. Norman’s defence team for about two hours last year in Toronto before becoming Premier.
Peter MacKay, who held the portfolios of defence and justice in the Harper government, said he had a “lengthy discussion” with the defence.
Current Conservative foreign-affairs critic Erin O’Toole, a veterans affairs minister when the contract was awarded in 2015, said he also heard from and gave information to the legal team.
Defence lawyer Marie Henein criticized Ottawa for preventing the defence team from accessing thousands of government documents it said it needed to defend Vice-Adm. Norman.
Ms. Henein declined to provide any details about the information the defence provided to the Crown, saying at a news conference last week that she would not “get into the specifics of the documents that were provided,” but said, “when you’re looking at the standard … you’re looking at how business was being done, how was this particular contract negotiated.”
Vice-Adm. Norman was suspended as the military’s second-in-command on Jan. 16, 2017, and charged with breach of trust last year for allegedly leaking government secrets in an attempt to influence cabinet’s decision in a review of a $668-million contract with Davie shipyard for a supply vessel. He denied any wrongdoing.
Sometime this week, Liberals on the House of Commons national defence committee will decide whether to allow a review into the investigation and prosecution of Vice-Adm. Norman as opposition MPs forced an emergency meeting on the issue.