Now that Vice Admiral Mark Norman’s court case is done, the question arises: what next? VAdm Norman has said that he looks forward to returning to duty and Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance has suggested that he is ready to welcome him back.
In fact, CTV News’ Don Martin, in a recent “Last Word” segment suggested that General Vance might ‘take the fall‘ for the Norman affair and that Norman, himself, could be the next CDS. Peter MacKay, speaking on CBC‘s Power & Politics, agreed, but he suspects, and I’m sure he’s right, that will not happen.
Others, including some retired naval officers, suggest that it is not so easy for Admiral Norman to return to duty. Further, David Pugliese, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, says that “Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan shot down any return of Norman to the position of VCDS … [saying that] … “We currently have a vice-chief of defence staff and he will remain in place” …[and] … “I understand that Gen. Vance, as his immediate superior, will be meeting with him and discussing the next steps. Once those discussions have taken place I’ll have further advice given to me.”” While it is undeniable that the conduct which the prosecutor called “secretive and inappropriate” is, as Jason Kenney says, the norm in National Defence Headquarters, there will be lingering questions about his trustworthiness, especially by his Liberal minister, even though it now seems clear that he was always acting, very properly, on the orders of the (previous, Conservative) government. Thus, while Don Martin suggests that General Vance may be due (even, after four years as CDS, overdue?) for a plum diplomatic post to a nice warm place, the same might be true for Admiral Norman.
Some people have suggested that saying that he wants his job back is just a necessary legal move for Admiral Norman to make as he prepares to sue the Government of Canada for major damages.
Be that as it may, in my opinion, the smart move for this Liberal Government ~ but a move that I think Justin Trudeau will find nearly impossible to make because his own, deeply flawed, character will not allow it ~ is to:
- Publicly apologize to Vice Admiral Norman for what was certainly, at least, a rush to judgement, and which may almost amount to malicious prosecution. A few hours ago CTV News reported that “The House of Commons has agreed unanimously to apologize to Vice-Admiral Mark Norman over what he had to go through during the years-long legal battle that came to an end last week when federal prosecutors stayed the breach of trust charge he was facing … [and] … Speaking with reporters about why the Liberals supported the motion, Government House Leader Bardish Chagger said that she and her colleagues recognize the service of men and women in uniform, and the support of their family members.” But Conservative MP Erin O’Toole noted, on social media, that the motion is symbolic, it does not constitute a formal government apology, and both Mr O’Toole and the Globe and Mail also reported that that the prime minister left the House of Commons before the motion was adopted. I think that speaks volumes about his deeply flawed personal character;
- Lay off as much of the blame as possible onto General Vance, the RCMP and the prosecutors; and
- Offer Mark Norman a really plum diplomatic posting ~ better than the one they should offer to Jonathan Vance ~ and a hefty financial settlement which might persuade him to not publish his memoirs for a few years.
I need to affirm that, as far as I know, from both my own personal contacts (I knew both their fathers better than I know the admiral and the general) and from everything I have been told, both General Vance and Vice Admiral Norman are exceptionally able men of sterling character. Both have earned the many high honours that are visible on their uniforms. Both are dedicated servants of Canada who have, also, earned happy, productive retirements and both would make excellent representatives for Canada abroad. Both should be offered important posts that reflect their knowledge, their abilities and their service to Canada. Neither should be made into pawns in partisan political games because both deserve better.