Politics

Peter MacKay, Scott Brison could be called as witnesses in Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's trial

The Crown in Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's breach of trust case tabled its witness list today — and it reads like a political, military, bureaucratic and business who’s-who of official Ottawa.

A high-profile trial involving powerful people is set to land in the midst of a federal election campaign

Treasury Board President Scott Brison could end up being called to testify in Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's breach of trust trial. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Crown in Vice-Admiral Mark Norman's breach of trust case tabled its witness list today — and it reads like a political, military, bureaucratic and business who's-who of official Ottawa.

It includes current and former cabinet ministers, a high-profile lobbyist, a former journalist, senior military brass and well-known business executives.

The list, dated July 5, 2018, was presented to the Ontario Superior Court on Friday during pre-trial arguments over the disclosure of federal government documents requested by Norman's defence.

Federal Treasury Board President Scott Brison, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and former Conservative defence minister Peter MacKay are among 24 witnesses who might be called to testify against the former commander of the navy.

The list was presented to Judge Heather Perkins-McVey to help her decide on the relevance of documents being requested by the defence.

It is subject to revision. The Crown is under no obligation to call each person and no subpoenas have been issued yet.

The trial will not get underway until next August — just before the next federal election campaign kicks off.

During submissions on Friday, Norman's lawyer, Marie Henein, said the Liberal government has been watching the case closely for political reasons.

"We have a variety of information that would suggest that there are explicit discussions between the PCO and the PMO office about the timing of this trial as it affects the next federal election," she told the court.

Norman is accused of leaking cabinet secrets to executives at the Davie shipyard, in Levis, Que., in the run-up to the signing of a $668 million lease contract for a temporary navy supply ship.

He is also alleged to have leaked the results of a Liberal cabinet decision to temporarily put the program on hold in November 2015 to a now-former CBC reporter, James Cudmore — who is also on the Crown's witness list.

Spencer Fraser, the Davie executive whom Norman is alleged to have fed secrets, is another one of the names on that list. So is Kevin McCoy, the president of rival Irving Shipbuilding.

The country's top military commander, Gen. Jonathan Vance, is on the list, along with the current commander of the navy, Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, who was Norman's deputy at the time the leased supply ship deal went down.

There are a number of senior current and retired members of the military, as well as current and former officials at Public Services and Procurement Canada, who may end up being called to testify.

Brian Mesereau, chairman of Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada, one of the biggest lobby firms in Ottawa, is also named as a potential witness.

Crown lawyer Mark Coven told the judge Friday the list has been through several revisions since he and his colleagues began drawing it up.

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