Pawns to gain power, rather than citizens to serve

“The alarming and protracted bias of perceived guilt across the senior levels of governments has been quite damaging and the emotional and financial impacts of the entire ordeal have taken a toil”, said Vice-Admiral Mark Norman after the Crown stayed charges against him for breach of trust.

Norman had been charged with leaking privileged cabinet discussions relating to the procurement of a Naval supply ship.

He was suspended from his job on January 16, 2017 but will now be reinstated.

Norman’s anger today is directed at Prime Minister Trudeau and other senior officials in the government.

Hundreds of requests by his defence lawyer for government documents were denied as ‘privileged’.

This case clearly shows the vulnerability of individuals being charged by the Crown and not having access to privileged information important to proving their innocence.

It was a two-and-a-half year ordeal for Norman and his family.

The charges stayed when the Crown received new information from the defence team.

The prosecutors still say Vice-Admiral Norman’s behaviour was “inappropriate” from what would be expected of a civil servant in a high ranking position.

But the takeaway for the Crown prosecutors and the RCMP is they have again under-minded their credibility through self-inflicted incompetence.

Judicial credibility is absolute for democracies to stay legitimate.

Crown prosecutors and the RCMP need a dose of wise discernment when deciding to criminally charge civil servants.

Did the breach of trust threaten our national security or did it primarily cause embarrassment to a government?

Vice-Admiral Norman deserved discipline, even demotion. His actions were unethical and, yes, breached the confidentiality of his position, but it did not rise to the level of a protracted, costly court battle.

Norman is angry at the Crown prosecutors, the RCMP, the Liberal Government, and who would blame him? But on reflection, he may turn much of that anger towards three former Conservative cabinet ministers: Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Jason Kenney.

The Crown prosecutors never released the source or content of the new information.

But the Conservative triad named above was out flooding the airwaves shortly thereafter saying they had met with and had given the defence team new information a few weeks before.

Sadly for Vice-Admiral Norman, the Conservative triad had this information since their time in government which was long before any charges were laid in 2017.

Looking at it objectively, the triad really didn’t care about Vice-Admiral Norman as a person otherwise they would have ensured he had this information when first charged.

Today, it’s obvious the triad, which included our Premier, seemed to only care about using Vice-Admiral Norman to further their political agenda and deliver a timely blow to Prime Minister Trudeau five months before an election.

The triad all plead innocence by saying, “the RCMP and the Crown Prosecutors never contacted them.”

That’s equivalent to students watching, and not reporting, two kids fighting and when they, too, get suspended, parents argue, “but they weren’t fighting so why are they suspended?”

It’s a lesson on personal responsibility— inaction can be as guilty as action.

Not taking this information to Vice- Admiral Norman years ago further reflects on our new age politicians which see citizens as pawns used to gain power, rather than citizens to serve.

Today we know Vice-Admiral Norman and his family never needed to suffer for two-and-a-half years but for Kenney, MacKay and O’Toole’s self-centred decisions to withhold information until the election year.


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

ECA Review