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Canada ex-military chief charged with trust breach

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, 54, was relieved of his duty in January 2017 while an investigation proceeded

OTTAWA: Federal police on Friday charged the former second in command of Canada’s military with leaking cabinet secrets related to navy shipbuilding plans.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, 54, was relieved of his duty in January 2017 while an investigation proceeded.

In a statement Friday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said he has been charged with breach of trust, a criminal offence.

“Norman is alleged to have illegally disclosed government information to unauthorised parties,” it said.

He is to appear in court on April 10.

His lawyer Marie Henein said the charges are politically-motivated and would be answered in court, adding that Norman “has always acted in the best interests of this country” and should be “celebrated, not prosecuted.”

“Not once has he ever been swayed by political or personal considerations,” she said. “His love of this country and ensuring its military strength has been his only guiding principle.”

The investigation was launched in December 2015 following a government complaint about the leaks.

In an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant of Norman’s home last year, police said he had provided sensitive government information to a local shipyard.

The 97-page court document included expletive-laden emails from Norman to Spencer Fraser, head of Federal Fleet shipyards in Quebec.

Federal Fleet had been selected by the previous Conservative Party government to provide the navy with an interim supply ship.

In the emails, Norman appeared worried that the project would be delayed over concerns raised by rival shipyards about the lack of competition in awarding the contract.

He also described how the project was viewed by the incoming Liberal government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals put the project on hold when they came to power in 2015, but eventually decided to proceed with it.

The MV Asterix was recently delivered to the navy to begin operations.

Norman was appointed vice chief of defence staff in 2016, after spending four years in command at the Royal Canadian Navy.

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