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Tory senator signals plan to drop probe of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman case

Tory senator signals plan to drop probe of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman case
Politics
OTTAWA -- Conservative senators are expected to drop their bid to conduct an inquiry into the failed prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, but hope the matter will nonetheless dominate the upcoming federal election campaign.

Members of the Senate defence committee were to meet later Monday, a gathering in which Conservative Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais has indicated he plans to withdraw his motion to hear from Norman and other witnesses about the case.

It was successfully adopted with help from fellow Conservatives as well as Independent Sen. Diane Griffin and unaffiliated Sen. David Richards, setting the stage for hearings into the politically charged case.

But in a letter to committee chairwoman Gwen Boniface, Dagenais says time has all but run out for the committee to hear from Norman, chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and others.

The committee had agreed to conduct its inquiry and report to the Senate by no later than June 20.

"There is no problem on the Conservative side. But last Thursday, I met with (Senate) Liberal Leader Peter Harder, who made it clear to me that there was no question of granting us such permission."

Dagenais goes on to blame "the manipulations of Justin Trudeau s Liberals" for causing the committee to run out of time in launching the study, which follows the Crown s decision on May 8 to stay its case against Norman.

Harder s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Norman had been accused of leaking government secrets to Quebec s Davie shipyard, allegedly to help it nail down a $700-million contract for a navy supply ship.

The deal had been approved by the previous Conservative government, but the new Liberal government decided to review it in November 2015 before eventually finalizing it.

In staying the charges, Crown prosecutors told the judge that new evidence they d received from Norman s defence team had led them to conclude there was no reasonable chance of a conviction.

While Dagenais said he planned to throw in the towel on a formal committee inquiry, he nonetheless expressed his desire for the Norman case would be an issue during this fall s federal election.

"I hope that the suspicious and questionable suspension of Vice-Admiral Norman will remain valid and will be questioned in the upcoming election campaign," he wrote.

The National Post, meanwhile, has reported that Norman s lawyer Marie Henein also wrote a letter to the committee on Sunday, questioning the value of the committee s planned probe.

According to the Post, Henein told the committee s clerk she did not know if senators would have the time and information needed to conduct a thorough inquiry and expressed concern its study "will not be of assistance to the Canadian public."

Henein also indicated that she only received the committee s invitation for Norman to testify over the weekend as it was sent to her law firm s general mailbox, rather than directly to her or her client.
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