Conservatives, New Democrats to formally call for committee probe of Mark Norman case Thursday
Opposition parties will make a pitch Thursday for a full-blown House of Commons committee investigation into the handling of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
The Conservatives and the NDP wrote a letter last week to the Liberal chair of the defence committee asking for an emergency meeting.
One hour has been set aside to debate the Opposition motion, but a full-blown review cannot take place unless a majority of MPs on the committee support it.
It will be another crucial test for the Liberal government, which has faced allegations from both the Opposition and Norman's lawyer, Marie Henein, regarding political influence over decisions made during the prosecution of the military's former second-in-command.
The Crown stayed a single charge of breach of trust against Norman last week, saying it did not have a reasonable prospect of conviction after the defence presented it with new evidence.
The lead prosecutor, Barbara Mercier, declined to say what that new information was — but indicated it was something neither she nor the RCMP had seen before.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale denied there was any political influence exerted in the case and defended the Mounties' handling of it.
"They would make their own decisions using their own professional judgments," he said, adding that he never had any communication with them about the Norman matter.
The former commander of the navy was accused of leaking cabinet secrets to the Davie Shipyard in Levis, Que., which leased the federal government a supply ship for the navy. Norman was accused of leaking the results of a Liberal cabinet meeting on the $668 million leasing project to a CBC journalist.
CBC News has reported that three former ministers in the Conservative cabinet of then-prime minister Stephen Harper, and a handful of staffers who were around when the shipbuilding project was negotiated, cooperated with the defence and provided information that may have been pertinent to the case.
Among other things, that information included confirmation that Norman had the authorization of the Harper cabinet to speak to the Davie Shipyard and share information as the project was assembled.
It's not clear whether the RCMP and the Crown knew of that authorization when they laid the charge against the veteran naval commander.
Justice Minister David Lametti has defended how the investigation unfolded and suggested it should be taken as a sign of confidence in the judicial process.
"I think the system worked in the sense that ... each component part did its job and the prosecution service in particular took evidence, evaluated it, decided to lay charges, decided to stay charges in an ongoing evolutionary process in which, as they had said, evidence came to light," he said. "So they, and their evaluation, they made a decision.
"I think ... that's indicative that the system works."