Correspondence shows Norman angered by attempted political interference in shipbuilding contract
Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017 11:55PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 6, 2017 10:16AM EDT
Correspondence obtained by CTV News shows Vice-Admiral Mark Norman had considered resigning over attempted political interference in a shipbuilding contract by Irving Shipyards, before he was ultimately removed from his duties.
Norman was the vice chief of the defence staff when Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance temporarily removed him from his duties on Jan. 9. The military has never provided an explanation for Norman’s suspension.
Sources say Irving wrote to multiple cabinet ministers in the newly minted Liberal government in November of 2015, trying to scuttle a multimillion dollar plan to rebuild a desperately needed supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy that had been awarded to competitor Davie Shipyards.
Expressing his frustration, Norman wrote: “This is sole [sic] destroying. I might be prepared to resign over this. I can't keep playing along much longer.”
Documents related to the procurement plan, known as Project Resolve, were leaked to media and the defence industry. CTV News has learned that the leaks prompted an RCMP probe, which led to Norman’s suspension.
The ongoing probe is being carried out by the Sensitive and International Investigations unit, which deals with politically sensitive cases.
Sources say Mounties descended on Norman's home at about 7:30 a.m. on January 9, surprising the admiral and his wife as they were about to leave for work. RCMP officers blocked Norman’s vehicle in his driveway.
The RCMP had a warrant for all electronic devices in the home. They seized mobile phones and computers from Norman and his wife, and those items are still in police custody.
Fifteen months after the investigation began, the RCMP has laid no charges and is still interviewing people, including government officials and lobbyists in Ottawa.
One of the reporters who received leaked information is now serving in the defence minister's office and works closely on the shipbuilding file. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office refused to comment on departmental staffing and said the minister stands by Norman’s suspension.
Sources say Norman is not being investigated for breaching national security or seeking financial gain. Those close to him say he’s being scapegoated.
In a statement to CTV News, Irving said they did not contact the RCMP, nor have they been contacted. They did not respond to questions about alleged attempts to lobby the government on the shipbuilding issue.
With a report from CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson in Ottawa