Tories accuse Trudeau of political interference in Vice-Admiral Mark Norman case

Justin Trudeau was accused Thursday of politically interfering in the case of Vice- by claiming the naval officer would probably end up in court.

Trudeau’s office has refused to explain how and what information the prime minister had to come to the conclusion he voiced last year that Norman – who has with any crime – would wind up in court.

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance has also declined a request by Postmedia to provide information about which officials in the prime minister’s office he provided briefings to regarding the Norman case.

But Conservative defence critic James Bezan said Trudeau has interfered in the process.

“The Prime Minister himself approved (Norman’s) suspension and publicly predicted that his case was going to end up in court without offering any explanation at all,” Bezan said Thursday in the House of Commons. “Why is the Prime Minister politically interfering in Vice-Admiral Norman’s case and denying him his right to due process.”

Defence Sajjan answered the question for the prime minister, stating that since the case is under investigation it would be irresponsible to .

Sajjan did not explain why he and Trudeau commented on the case last year but now the government can’t comment on the Norman issue this year.

Norman was suspended from his job as second in command of the Canadian military more than a year ago by Vance after a series of RCMP . The police force claims Norman tipped off Davie shipyards that the Liberal government was going to derail a key navy program involving the Quebec firm converting a commercial ship into a vessel.

Details about the Liberal decision to put the supply ship project on hold leaked out to the news media and the resulting embarrassment forced the government to back down on its plans.

Norman denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged. The vice-admiral has not been interviewed by the RCMP.

Defence Minister Sajjan

In addition, the validity of some of the RCMP allegations against Norman has already been questioned by a judge during a hearing in April.

Bezan said in an interview with Postmedia Thursday that the treatment of Norman and his family has angered both serving and retired military personnel. “I hear from military people and my own constituents that they see this as a miscarriage of justice,” Bezan said. “There is no due process here.”

The RCMP raided Norman’s Ottawa-area house, seizing government computers and cellphones but also a wide variety of the family’s personal papers. Police grabbed vacation photos as well as the pay stubs and medical records of the vice-admiral’s wife, Beverly. None of those documents were related to the case.

Norman has requested financial assistance from a special government fund that covers legal fees for federal employees.

But the Department of National Defence declined that request, claiming Norman is guilty of disclosing confidential information.

That determination of guilt was made by a small group of military officers and bureaucrats. They did not conduct any investigation and the DND has declined to say how this determination of guilt was arrived at.

Sajjan was asked last Friday by Postmedia whether he thought the Liberal government had treated Norman fairly.

He by saying it is important that due process is done and “making sure everyone is treated fairly.”

On the weekend, Stephen Fuhr, the Liberal MP who chairs the Commons defence committee, responded to a similar question on Twitter by stating, “Norman is not my constituent nor is his file on my desk.”

He later declined comment because the matter is a legal issue.

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