The government has agreed to pay for government officials testifying against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman to get outside legal counsel, but have refused to pay for Norman’s.
As many as six Canadian Forces and Department of National Defense officials who will be testifying for the Crown in the Mark Norman case will have their legal fees covered by the taxpayer.
Despite having access to government legal counsel – Cameron Ahmad, Trudeau’s communications director, said that the rules allow for individuals to choose outside counsel.
“As per the Treasury Board Policy on Legal Assistance and Indemnification, counsel has been retained to advise on the matter in question,” Ahmad said.
Norman made a request to the government for assistance to cover his legal fees in 2017. As a government official, Norman was eligible for government assistance.
Norman’s request for financial assistance, however, was denied.
A Justice Department letter leaked to Postmedia revealed the rationale was that Norman is guilty of disclosing confidential information.
Why the government could consider Norman guilty despite not being found guilty and no internal investigation being carried out by the Canadian Forces is not clear.
The Department of National Defense, however, has defended their decision.
“It was done following consultations with the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces Legal Advisor (DND/CF LA), who reports to the Department of Justice,” The Department told Postmedia.
The Department was also sure to mention that the Clerk of the Privy Council and the PMO were not involved with the decision, contrary to what some have argued.
Norman`s lawyer has accused the government of delaying the release of important documents to her client – preventing the defense from making their case.
It has been estimated that the government has spent $10-$15 million on prosecuting Norman, while Norman has paid for his defense out of pocket.
Even the judge questioned why the government has taken so long to produce the documents, particularly key interviews, which have to go to her before they can go to Norman`s lawyer.
“When am I going to get the materials?”Justice Heather Perkins-McVey asked the Crown.
“Time marches on, and these interviews took place in January of 2016.”
The defence has also still waiting for information from several key PMO officials they subpoenaed..
Norman`s lawyer says that she has yet to receive a single document related to the subpoenas.