House unanimously agrees to apologize to Vice-Admiral Mark Norman
OTTAWA – 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.
Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt proposed the motion after question period on Tuesday.
It read: “That the House recognize Vice-Admiral Mark Norman for his decades of loyal service to Canada, express regret for the personal and professional hardships he endured as a result of his failed prosecution, and apologize to him and his family for what they experienced during their legal conflict with the government.”
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.
“It’s a tough situation, but what we know is that there was a process and that process was followed,” Chagger said. She said the Conservatives gave the government a heads-up that the motion was going to be proposed.
On May 8, federal prosecutors stayed the charge against Norman, citing no "reasonable prospect of conviction."
Federal prosecutor Barbara Mercier said in court that while some of Norman’s actions were, in the mind of the Crown, secretive and inappropriate, they were not criminal.
Norman served as the second-in-command of the military until he was charged in March 2018 with breach of trust for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets in favour of Quebec-based Davie Shipbuilding in relation to a $700-million shipbuilding contract. Norman, who was suspended from the military as a result of the charge, had denied any wrongdoing.
Not long after the charge was stayed, the federal government announced that it will be paying Norman's substantial legal fees. Norman says he is now looking forward to returning to work, though it remains unclear what position he’ll be returning to.
This apology and recognition of service comes after National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said on CTV’s Question Period that he regrets the process that Norman had to go through, but stopped short of saying he was sorry.
Norman’s lead defence lawyer Marie Henein said last week that Norman was owed an apology.
“Vice-Admiral Norman has been through a great deal, his family has been through a great deal. There is a supply ship that is operational, on time, and under budget thanks in part to Vice-Admiral Norman. I think it’s time to say sorry to him,” she said.
Norman has said that he has an “important story to tell” in the coming days, and has not ruled out pursuing a civil suit against the government.
“The alarming and protracted bias of perceived guilt across the senior levels of government has been quite damaging and the emotional and financial impacts of this entire ordeal have taken a toll,” Norman said.