Feds slow-walking requests for documents in Norman case, lawyers charge
Vice Admiral Mark Norman arrives to the Ottawa Courthouse in Ottawa on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2018 12:01PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2018 12:41PM EST
OTTAWA -- Suspended Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's lawyers have accused the federal Justice Department of refusing to co-operate with their numerous requests for documents they say are required to ensure their client a fair trial.
Most of the documents relate to a $700-million contract to refit a civilian vessel into a temporary support ship for the navy.
The deal was negotiated by the Harper Conservatives and finalized by the Trudeau Liberals.
Defence lawyer Marie Henein told an Ottawa court Wednesday that she has attempted on countless occasions to work with federal lawyers to narrow the search and find documents most relevant to Norman's case.
"Nobody wants a 100,000-document dump," Henein told Justice Heather Perkins-McVey.
"We really are interested in focusing on issues that are relevant to this case."
Henein said the Justice Department has either ignored her requests or dragged its feet, saying that it will take months to collect the documents Norman's team has requested and more resources aren't available to speed things up.
Henein also told the court that several people -- including some she described as Liberals and Conservatives -- have reached out to her office to say they have turned over information relevant to the case.
But her office has at times received no indication from the Department of Justice that such documents even exist, she said.
She called efforts to deal with the Justice Department "a game of cat and mouse throughout."
Henein said Crown prosecutors have been little help in collecting documents or trying to confirm whether Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper are willing to waive cabinet secrecy so that certain records can be made available to Norman's defence.
While Trudeau has not publicly commented on the release of cabinet confidences, Harper recently said on Twitter he had "indicated no objection to the release of any document relevant to the Norman case."
The court is scheduled to spend five days hearing arguments over the relevance and public release of documents in Norman's case.
Norman was suspended in January 2017 as the military's second in command and charged with one count of breach of trust in connection with the alleged leak of cabinet secrets around the shipbuilding project. He has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charge.
His trial is scheduled to start next August and run through much of the next federal election.