Duffy redux?

One might be forgiven for reading between the lines of a report by David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen and then jumping to the conclusion that the trial of Vice Admiral Mark Norman is on the same trajectory as was the trial of Senator Mike Duffy.

As the media was reporting that a civil servant, not the admiral, leaked the confidential imageinformation to a lobbyist who, in turn, passed it on to the shipbuilder it appears that the prosecution has decided to change direction and argue that Admiral Norman broke some bureaucratic rules by simply discussing procurement issues with journalists and others, because, as Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy procurement was not part of his job, the-new-chief-3even though he would seem to have been following direction from General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of theDefence Staff, for senior officers to develop closer contacts with friendly journalists in order to get public support foe the military ~ that guidance was given when the Conservatives were in power, before the issue over which Vice Admiral Norman is being charged.

Mr Pugliese reports that the prosecutors are using, as an example, the case of the non-commissioned member who was, quite clearly, guilty of misusing military property and people for his own personal benefit, but there seems to be, already, a consensus, in the court, that Admiral Norman received no benefit, at all, from whatever he may have done. In fact the prosecutor is quoted as says that ““Mark Norman does not face a criminal charge for having done what he thought was best for Canada’s Navy  … [rather] … He is charged for breaking the rules that he swore to uphold; rules that, to him, had become inconvenient; rules that were frustrating what he thought was important and wanted.”” That Admiral Norman was frustrated, seems clear from e-mails that have been published; that he thought getting a Canadian supply ship to support Canadian warships at sea seems to be something that any senior RCN officer, not least the Navy’s commander would consider important ~ in fact it seems something that every official and minister of the crown, including Treasury Board President Scott Brison, should have though was important; but Admiral Norma’s lawyers argue that from just getting something he wanted, he was trying his best to “ensure that the orders of elected officials were being followed as a group of public servants were trying to undercut the Conservative government’s orders.

In the same newspaper Christie Blatchford, who is also well connected in both the military and in the courtrooms, says that the Privy Council Office is in the position of being the originator of the complaint ~ it referred the matter to the RCMP who then laid the charges ~ also controls access to much of the information Admiral Norman’s legal team says it needs and is, quite rightly and properly, the agency that decides what is a “cabinet confidence” and what is not … something the judge has already noted.

I hasten to repeat that I am not a lawyer and I was one of those who thought that the imagecrown prosecutors made some sense when they took Senator Duffy to court, thus my legal opinions are highly suspect … but this prosecution looks, to me, to have gone from nasty and unnecessary to desperate. If what David Pugliese has reported is the best that the prosecutors can do then I really hope that the federal government is getting ready to eat a huge slice of humble pie, to reinstate Vice Admiral Norman and to give him a multi-million dollar golden handshake to make up for a malicious prosecution.

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