Vice-Admiral Mark Norman had talks with Gen. Vance about returning to work

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and his boss, Gen. Jonathan Vance, have held amicable, but so far inconclusive, talks about the former vice chief of the defence staff returning to work.

A spokesperson for the Department of National Defence has confirmed that the two held a meeting on the holiday Monday of this week.

Dan Le Bouthillier described the discussion as “cordial” with more to take place.

“As discussions are ongoing, further information will be made available in due course,” he said in a statement.

A charge of breach of trust against Norman was recently stayed more than two years after he was accused of leaking cabinet secrets related to a $668-million shipbuilding deal.

When the accusations first became public, he was suspended from his post as the military’s second-in-command and was formally relieved of the post almost a year ago, shortly after the Crown laid a single charge of breach of trust.

Prosecutors stayed the charge earlier this month, saying new evidence presented by the defence made it unlikely they would obtain a conviction.

Norman, following the court case, said he wanted to return to his old job, which is currently occupied by Lt.-Gen. Paul Wynnick, and that he had a story tell which Canadians should hear.

Political and policy questions

Since then, the former commander of the navy has been largely out of sight, with the exception of giving an interview to Postmedia where he gave a personal account of the toll the case has taken on him and his family.

Substantive political and policy questions related to how he — the second most powerful military commander in the country — ended up being accused of leaking cabinet secrets were not addressed in the interview.

Norman would have to temper his public comments because, while still serving, he is subject to military regulations that prohibit him from criticizing his superiors and government policy.

He could, however, shed a substantial amount of light on his role in helping push through a contract with the Davie Shipyard, in Lévis, Que., to lease a supply ship to the navy; the orders he was given by the former Conservative government and the extraordinary circumstances that prompted a hot-wiring of the usually lengthy procurement system to deliver the vessel, which is now in service.

The Conservatives, who are now in the opposition benches, tried and failed recently to convince the Liberal-dominated defence committee to hold hearings into the case.

Liberal MPs said it wasn’t their place to question the decisions of independent agencies, such as the Crown and the RCMP.

Norman can speak his mind more freely before a parliamentary committee.

There has been talk of the slightly more independent Senate defence committee holding its own hearings, but with only a few weeks left before Parliament rises ahead of the next election, it is unlikely to get into anything substantive.