Sources tell CTV News that the decision to remove Vice-Admiral Mark Norman from his duties is related to an RCMP investigation into whether he leaked classified materials.
Numerous senior defence sources told CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson they believe the sensitive information allegedly leaked is related to naval shipbuilding. Leaking such materials could violate federal laws.
Canada's Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance has provided few details about why he removed his second-in-command in a letter dated Jan. 13. Vance has cited "privacy considerations" as the reason he is "unable to provide further information."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also refused to say why Norman was removed.
Trudeau told reporters in New Brunswick that "this government supports Gen. Vance in the decision that he took and I have nothing further to say on this at this time."
Several sources inside the military say they are frustrated by the silence.
David Perry, senior analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, is among those who say Norman is a respected officer.
"I think he's somebody that still thought it was important to speak in public on behalf of the organizations that he represented," Perry added. "And he was happy to do that and quite good at it."
Norman has pushed publicly to bolster Canada’s naval presence.
CTV safety analyst Chris Lewis said leaking classified information is a "very serious offence" that can be a "career-ender" for senior government officials.
Norman did not respond to requests for comment.
With a report from CTV's Mercedes Stephenson