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Vice-Admiral Mark Norman probe was ‘thorough, independent’, RCMP says

OTTAWA — The RCMP is defending its investigation of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, which has come under sustained fire since the politically charged case against the military’s former second-in-command collapsed earlier this week.

Much of that criticism has centred on why the Mounties did not interview members of Stephen Harper’s former Conservative government during their two-year investigation into allegations Norman leaked cabinet secrets.

That was despite accusations Norman provided confidential information about a $700-million shipbuilding contract to a Quebec shipyard, its lobbyists or the media on 12 occasions starting in September 2014 — when the Tories were in power.

Former ministers Jason Kenney, Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay, as well as some former Conservative government staff members, revealed this week that they spoke to Norman’s lawyers but said the RCMP never approached them.

It’s believed the information they provided Norman’s team helped get the case dropped on Wednesday. As she stayed the charge, Crown prosecutor Barbara Mercier told the judge that her decision was informed by fresh information that she had received from the defence.

The RCMP wouldn’t comment on specifics of its investigation on Friday because a second criminal case is still before the courts, involving a different public servant also accused of leaking details on the shipbuilding deal.

But in a statement, the Mounties said they respected the Crown’s decision to drop the case before defending officers for having “conducted a thorough, independent and highly professional investigation.”

Norman’s lawyer, Marie Henein, had previously questioned why members of the Harper government had not been questioned, a point she reiterated on Wednesday after the Crown agreed to drop its breach-of-trust case against her client.

“One of the things we said in court is that during the course of the investigation, although the (allegations) covered a significant part of the Harper-government time period, there were no witnesses interviewed from that time period,” she said.

Neither Henein nor the Crown have said specifically what the pivotal new information was, though Henein did reveal that her office had been conducting its own investigation for several months that included interviews with former Conservative ministers and staff.

Some have questioned whether Norman, who has said the two-year legal ordeal weighed heavily on him and his family, would ever have been charged if the RCMP or the public-prosecution service had reached out to the Conservatives.

“Why weren’t those questions asked of our cabinet members by the RCMP and by the (director of public prosecutions)?” O’Toole said during a news conference on Parliament Hill on Thursday. “The Crown should have that information before making their case.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who Henein and the Conservatives have accused of trying to interfere in Norman’s case, asserted on Friday that “the processes in this case have unfolded in a proper manner, completely independent of government.

“I think Canadians understand that judicial processes, police investigations and court proceedings are all entirely independent of the government of the day and certainly of the Prime Minister’s Office.”

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