A few days ago I suggested that Vice Admiral Mark Norman has been made a scapegoat in a strange prosecution for breach of trust. His lawyers have named the person who actually may have leaked the cabinet confidence ~ they suggest that it was Mathew Matchett, then a civil servant in the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, who leaked the Memorandum to Cabinet (which is, indeed, a document that requires very special, very private handling and which must be kept, by civil servants and by any military officers who might (rarely) have access to it, very confidential) to a lobbyist. It appears that there were six separate leaks but little if any evidence that Admiral Norman was involved in any of them.
I think it is now high time for Canada’s Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould PC QC MP to step up and act in the national interest, in the interest of justice, I believe, and in the best political interests of the Liberal Party of Canada.
I believe that Minister Wilson-Raybould should to tell Canadians that:
- Many of the documents that Ms Marie Henein, Admiral Norman’s lead lawyer, wants the government to release are, in fact, of a nature that requires that they remain strictly confidential because the very nature of cabinet government depends upon public servants being able to provide the cabinet with frank, factual information, some of which, if released, even in a serious court case, might be very damaging to people, to Canadian corporations and to the national interest; but
- She understands that Admiral Norman is entitled to a proper defence and she agrees that the documents would help, some might even be essential with/for that; and
- Therefore, since she cannot, in good conscience, release all the documents Admiral Norman needs and since he has a right to a fair trial and will, likely, not receive one without those documents, she has ordered that all charges against Vice Admiral Norman be dropped.
Ms Wilson-Raybould should also tell Canadians that Minister Brison was quite correct to say that the leak of cabinet confidences makes it difficult for government to do its job properly, but it appears, to her, that some officials in the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and in her own department may have overreacted and even rushed to judgement.
The Justice Minister should say that she concludes that Mark Norman was wrongfully or, at least, very prematurely accused, and was, then, wrongfully dismissed from his post as Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and he cannot now receive a fair trial and must be presumed to have been wrongfully charged, too. She will, she should tell Canadians, therefore, offer a generous financial settlement to Admiral Norman ~ certainly several million dollars ~ to compensate him for the damage done to his reputation and to his future prospects.
It would be a big, but I suspect short-lived political climbdown for Team Trudeau, which hates to admit that it might ever have been even slightly wrong about anything, but it would be the just and, I suspect, politically savvy thing to do. She can lay the blame off on mostly unnamed officials; it would be, briefly, embarrassing for a few nameless, faceless RCMP investigators and for General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff, who actually did dismiss VAdm Norman ~ but he’s a tough guy and he can take the heat …. but far less embarrassing to the government than the acquittal of Senator Mike Duffy was to the Harper government, and I think that is the level of risk that the Liberals face with this case.
That what I think Ms Wilson-Raybould, who is, after all, Canada’s Justice minister, should do, but this is Justin Trudeau’s government so what it will do is anyone’s guess.