The Current

Mark Norman, SNC-Lavalin controversies may hamper Liberal election run: reporter

Our political panel weighs in on the fallout from the Mark Norman case, discussing it in light of the SNC-Lavalin affair. Could the consecutive controversies have an impact on the fall federal election?

Conservatives hope cases 'feed into larger narrative' for voters, says Richard Warnica

The Crown stayed a single charge of breach of trust against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman last week. Norman, who at one time commanded the Royal Canadian Navy, had been accused of leaking cabinet secrets in relation to a $668-million shipbuilding deal to lease a supply vessel. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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The Conservatives are hoping the SNC-Lavalin and Mark Norman controversies will combine in voters' minds to damage the Liberals' election prospects, according to a National Post reporter.

"I think the reality is that the average person sort of consumes news … [in] more of a muddle than we like to pretend in the news media," Richard Warnica told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"What the Conservatives are banking on — and I think they've got a good chance at this — is that SNC and Mark Norman just ends up in sort of one big news swirl above people's heads that feeds into a larger narrative."

Last week, Crown prosecutors stayed a single charge of breach of trust against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, the military's former second-in-command. He had been accused of leaking government secrets in the run-up to the signing of a $668-million shipbuilding deal to lease a supply vessel. 

The high-profile case saw the Liberal government face allegations of political interference from both the Opposition Conservatives and Norman's defence team.

Former Canadian justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould appeared before the House of Commons justice committee in late February. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

The Liberals were caught in another scandal earlier this year, when the Prime Minister's Office was accused of pressuring former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a criminal case against Quebec engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

Warnica said SNC-Lavalin is the "keyword" in the latest controversy surrounding Norman and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals. 

"If this had happened absent SNC, I don't think it's one-tenth the story it is right now. I don't think it's getting one-tenth the coverage. I don't think it's getting one tenth the sort of public resonance," he said.

'I don't know what they'll sell now'

He explained the Liberals won the 2015 election "by selling themselves as something completely new" compared to Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

"I don't what they sell now," he said, pointing out that the Norman case is about more than just procurement.

"It goes to the fundamental difficulty, and anger, and suspicion that a lot of people have about politics, which is, 'Oh, it's the exact same. Oh, this is you know the same thing that's always been happening. Why should I even bother [to] go out and vote?'"

To discuss the Mark Norman case and the political fallout surrounding it, Tremonti spoke to:

  • Tonda MacCharles, a senior reporter for the Toronto Star's Ottawa bureau.
  • Richard Warnica, a reporter for the National Post.
  • Kady O'Malley, a freelance parliamentary correspondent who writes for iPolitics.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Alison Masemann and Rachel Levy-McLaughlin.


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