Political Corner: Liberals left holding the bag in breach-of-trust trial

Policy problems left over from Harper’s administration compound Trudeau’s election difficulties

The Mark Norman controversy is only a symptom of a larger problem with procurement in Canada. Photo courtesy of Sean Kilpatrick via CBC

By: Kelly Grounds, SFU Student

On May 8, Crown prosecutors announced that they were going to stay the breach-of-trust charge against vice-admiral Mark Norman. This appeared to put an end to the legal drama which has been with Norman since January 2017 when he was originally suspended from his position as vice-chief of defence staff.

Norman was charged with the breach of trust on March 9, 2018, following allegations that he had leaked cabinet documents to both CBC and the CEO of Federal Fleet Services, a division of Chantier Davie Shipbuilding. The agreement in question was made by the Harper government in July 2015 to temporarily allow a non-military vessel to be converted into a resupply ship.

Less than a month after being sworn in, the Liberal government put the Chantier Davie Shipbuilding agreement on hold. This was quickly followed by the leaked documents which began Norman’s legal troubles.

As Norman begins talks to return to his former job, Ottawa is beginning to decide on who to blame for the two-year legal drama. With the federal elections racing towards us, the Conservatives are looking to place the entirety of the affair on the shoulders of the Liberals. However, it is important to remember that it is really procurement policy from the Harper government that started the entire issue.

Canada has always had a problem with procurement, the process that the government uses to acquire military equipment. That’s because nothing has been set up to see that the procurement process goes on when there is a change in government. Not only has this left the military with a lack of modern equipment, but it also leaves room for governments that make poor policy moves to shift responsibility for their actions onto subsequent governments.

Currently, the Liberals are dealing with the fallout of the poor policy choices of the Conservatives and the chaotic trial of Mark Norman. With the 2019 elections quickly approaching, voters need to recognize the fact that while the chaos unfolded during the Liberals’ term, they were not the agents of said chaos. Going into the elections, every voter needs to decide what parts of the Liberals’ term will guide their votes.