The Canadian military has formally removed Vice-Admiral Mark Norman from his position as vice-chief of the defence staff.
This comes more than three months after the RCMP laid a charge of breach of trust against him over the alleged leak of confidential information on a contentious ship contract.
Vice-Adm. Norman had been suspended from his senior post since January, 2017, when news first broke he was under investigation by the Mounties. His job had been filled by interim replacements.
Despite losing his position, the senior officer will continue to receive pay – and remain part of Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance’s office.
The military cited the need for full-time leadership in the post of vice-chief of the defence staff – a position that might be compared to chief operating officer in a corporation.
It could not offer any clear explanation however as to why this permanent removal from post is happening now – before Vice-Adm. Norman’s trial is finished.
“Command and control, as well as leadership, are critical as the Canadian Armed Forces continue to deploy on operations and implement the defence policy,” spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said.
“The Chief of the Defence Staff is grateful for those who have stepped up to fill the gap, but at this juncture with new deployments and policy implementation, the Canadian Armed Forces require a full-time VCDS going forward.”
This reassignment comes during the summer months when the Canadian Armed Forces typically shuffle and promote senior officers.
Lieutenant General Paul Wynnyk replaces Vice-Adm. Norman as vice-chief of the defence staff, the military said. He will take over in July after he hands over command of the Canadian Army to Lieutenant General Jean-Marc Lanthier, the Forces said.
“Vice-Adm. Norman is posted to a supernumerary position in the CDS office where he will continue to serve as a Canadian Armed Forces member,” Mr. Le Bouthillier said. “ His career in the CAF will be addressed following the conclusion of his legal matters.
Marie Henein, lawyer for Vice-Adm. Norman, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Ms. Henein has previously said her client is a victim of internecine warfare within the Department of National Defence and was “caught in the bureaucratic crossfire.” She has accused the RCMP of scapegoating her client, whose only goal, she said, was to serve the Canadian public and procure a needed ship.
In court documents made public last year, the RCMP alleged that Vice-Adm. Norman had leaked cabinet secrets to an executive of a Quebec-based shipyard, Spencer Fraser, and advised the businessman on how to use the media to press the federal government to approve a $667-million contract for naval-supply ships.
Vice-Adm. Norman was the commander of the navy when the Harper government awarded this supply vessel leasing contract, without competition, to Davie in 2015 in a move that was criticized as vote-pandering in Quebec.
Soon after taking power in November, 2015, the Trudeau Liberals put the supply-ship project on hold after receiving a letter of complaint from Irving Shipbuilding, which already had a multibillion-dollar contract to build a fleet of warships for the navy.
Vice-Adm. Norman sought to press the Liberals to stick with the Davie contract.
“I believe that Norman, contrary to his obligation as an official of the government of Canada, used his position as the Vice-Admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy to willfully provide, on an ongoing basis, information subject to cabinet confidence to [Spencer Fraser] in an effort to circumvent the established processes and procedures put in place by the government to ensure the secrecy and confidentiality of cabinet discussions,” RCMP Corporal Matthieu Boulanger wrote in an affidavit made public in April, 2017.