Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's lawyers have arrested the prime minister's government's prime minister in a federal government with new allegations of Scott Bruison's treasury chairmanship of a powerful Irving family and the role of Brison in the government's plan to postpone the delivery contract that was awarded to Irving's rival .
In court documents released on Friday, Norman's law team argues that the witnesses are contrary to Brison's claim that disclosing information about a plan to postpone the contract with Davie Shipbuilding violated the government's ability to review the contract. Norwegian lawyers also challenge Brison's claim that the ad hoc meeting of a government committee convened at that time was studying the integrity of the contracting process.
In the documents of Norman lawyer Marie Henein points to statements of federal bureaucrats in the RCMP. "The statements of other witnesses are against Brisbane at these key points, that is, the leakage did not affect the government's decision to continue with Davy's contract and that the concern of the ad hoc committee was about the integrity of the contracting process," its filing claims the court. "Instead, civil servants who attended and took personal notes of the Ad Hoc Committee meeting told RCMP that the key concern was not a satisfactory communication strategy for Liberals to explain the treaty procedure negotiated by the previous conservative government.
"The request to postpone seems to have nothing to do with the integrity of the Canadian agreement, but with political exchanges," Henein said.
The allegations made by the Defense against Brisnon have not been tested in court; nor that they were made against Norman, who faces a single criminal charge for the breach of trust in shipbuilding.
In the autumn of 2015, then CBC reporter James Cudmore reported that the newly elected Liberal government is planning to place a contract on the basis of which Davie will supply naval ship supplies. In a wave of publicity, the government supported the delay, but asked RCMP to investigate the alleged leak, arguing that information was protected as trust in the cabinet, thus allowing its release was unlawful without authorization.
Chief of Staff of the Army, Jonathan Vance, suspended Norman from the post of Commander of the Canadian forces in January 2017 after the RCMP fell into Norman's house, some 14 months into their investigation. Marta accused him in March 2018.
Documents released on Friday, following arguments from lawyers representing several media organizations, have been submitted last week in support of Henein's efforts to access the mass documentation that the government has so far refused to release on grounds that it considers to be classified. Henein says she needs this material, which includes memoranda and correspondences, in order to protect Norman.
Central to Henein's claims is the assertion that Brison, deputy of New Scotland, is near the Irving Atlantic Canada family, whose shipbuilding firm has submitted its own proposal for supplying the ship. The previous conservative government rejected Irving's offer in favor of Davy. On November 17, 2015, co-owner of Irving Shipbuilding James Irving sent a letter to four Liberal Cabinet Ministers, including Brison, asking them to reconsider Irving's ship's supply ship instead of Davy. Two days later, at a meeting of the ad hoc committee for government procurement, government ministers agreed to suspend Davy's project.
Norman lawyers argue that both Defense Secretary Harjit Sajjan and Judy Foote, the then minister responsible for procurement, supported the progress in the Davy project, as well as senior bureaucrats. However, Brison intervened shortly before the expiration of the deadline, Norman lawyers said, advocating that the contract be suspended.
Irvings have consistently denied any attempt to undermine rival shipmen through political interference.
Through a spokesman, Brison earlier said that his involvement in the issue was in the capacity of the chairman of the treasury board, in which he provides supervision over financial expenditures. Brison also told the Dining Room that he had only one interaction with Irving's shipbuilding during the period in question and when he was copied to the letter of Irving.
But Norman's lawyers through the court asked for any communication between Brisbane and Irving in November 2015. Henein argues that such a request is valid "given the inconsistent conclusions of Minister Brison on his handling of the letter to Irving and his close relationship with the Irving family."
"The record of lobbying shows that Minister Brison lobbied Jim Irving several times since becoming minister," Henein claims.
Outside the Ottawa court on Friday, Norman said he was confident that the court would make the right decision to publish the documents required by his legal team. "We look forward to being able to have access to material that we believe is essential to my defense," he said.
Asked if the documents would prove Norman's innocence, Christine Mainville, one of the vice-admiral's lawyers, said it was not a question at this time. "This is an application for third-party records," she said. "It's not about the merits of the case, it's not about bringing guilt or innocence. There will be times and places for that. We are looking forward to that time and place."
Norman's trial is expected to last in the summer of 2019, in the next federal election.