Why did the government rush to press charges against VAdm Norman?

The answer is still unknown.

I do not know if confidential settlement is the end of the story or only the end of the first book. However, I do not see that there is much else that VAdm Norman could have done. It is good that he has obtained terms that allow him to move on. I do think that the government should be more transparent and describe in general terms what it has agreed to as part of this settlement.

I have seen several comments criticizing various Conservative cabinet ministers for not coming forward to the RCMP earlier and describing VAdm Norman’s mandate. I think that people making those criticisms do not understand how investigations are done.

The RCMP had the lead on the investigation. They know what they were alleging occurred when the laid the charge. They know what they are alleging was the breach of trust and when that breach occurred. Before they laid the charge, they are supposed to have formed the belief that there was a reasonable prospect of conviction. The average person, even a former cabinet minister, does not know what the RCMP believed.

 One of the fundamental elements of a breach of trust case is that the accused was not acting with authority. If the accused was properly authorized to take the steps that s/he did then there is absolutely no basis for a charge. One would have expected that if the RCMP was basing their case against VAdm Norman on actions that occurred prior to the election in fall 2015 that they would have been in contact with those who might have authorized those actions.

The RCMP and the Crown do not appear to have contacted members of the former government about this matter. Although there had been long running disputes over disclosure as late as November of 2018 the Crown would not confirm whether former PM Harper had been asked to authorize release of documents. Instead, according to court filings in disclosure proceedings, it appears that the defence team was the first to speak to the former Conservative ministers and it was the defence that contacted former PM Harper to confirm that he would waive cabinet confidence if asked by the Crown It also seems that even though the charges were dropped the RCMP never spoke with any of the Ministers and instead the Public Prosecution Service has relied upon the defence investigation in deciding not to proceed.

The open question remains – ‘why did the government rush to press the case against VAdm Norman without conducting a full investigation?’

Author: Tom Jarmyn