Senate bid to investigate Norman case officially at an end

A bid by Conservative senators to investigate the handling of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman sputtered to a conclusion on Thursday, after the government leader in the Senate rejected a call for an extended schedule of summer hearings.

Conservative senator accused Liberals of blocking investigation

The Senate's attempt to investigate the failed prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman is officially dead, the deputy chair of the upper chamber's defence committee said Thursday.

It was given a short lease on life earlier this week when the committee voted to produce a report on the scandal later this summer, if it was given permission to sit that long.

Conservative Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais said that to conduct the investigation, the government leader in the Senate had to grant permission for sittings beyond the adjournment date.

Sen. Peter Harder has refused the request, said Dagenais, who noted three Independent senators voted in favour of meetings during the summer.

The Liberals, he said in a statement, don't want to get to the truth.

"They blocked an inquiry on the Norman affair in the House of Commons and now they are blocking us in the Senate," Dagenais said. "We are far from the promise of an open and transparent government made to Canadians by Prime Minister Trudeau."

The Senate defence committee voted at the end of May to look into the circumstances surrounding the prosecution of Norman, who was charged with one count of breach of trust after being accused of leaking cabinet secrets related to a $668-million shipbuilding deal.

Prosecutors said new evidence presented by the defence forced a re-evaluation of the case.

The political manoeuvring over the last week has been designed to put the onus on Harder, but a spokesperson said there is another avenue to hold an extended sitting — it would involve the Conservatives asking for permission from the full Senate.