Vice-Admiral Norman/NSS Timeline 2004-2019

Editor’s Note: I’ve added new items to the timeline below, but my real update can be found in this new article, for which I’ve written a new introduction. Rather than repeat myself, I thought I’d let the old intro stand because it still serves a purpose: it explains why I began this long, strange mission to document both the (now former) Vice-Admiral Norman case and the related saga of the National Shipbuilding Strategy.


Vice Adm. Mark Norman (U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Julianne F. Metzger/Released)

Over a year ago, I began creating this timeline, intending to track two separate but connected stories:

  1. Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS) and more particularly, the large-vessel component of the NSS.
  2. The criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

The impetus was the upcoming trial — scheduled for August 2019 — of Vice-Admiral Norman on one count of breach of trust. Norman, as the CBC’s Murray Brewster (who has followed the case from the beginning) explained:

…had been accused of leaking cabinet secrets in relation to a $668-million shipbuilding deal to lease a supply vessel. He was accused of leaking to both an executive at the Davie Shipyard in Levis, Que., which leased a supply ship to the navy, and to a CBC journalist.

The timeline, which took me (as I admitted) a “borderline disturbing” amount of time to compile was intended, at least in part, to be a handy reference for people following the trial when it got underway. And I will further admit: I undertook it because I thought there was something seriously hinky with the case, especially after reading Postmedia reporter David Pugliese’s “Man Overboard” article on the subject.

And it turns out, there was something seriously hinky with the case, as federal prosecutors admitted last week (not in so many words) when they dropped the charge against Norman. Soon after, the House of Commons unanimously agreed to apologize to Vice-Admiral Norman for putting him through this ordeal.

So here I am, all timelined up with nowhere to go.

Except, of course, that a civil servant still faces a charge of breach of trust in the case; and the National Shipbuilding Strategy sails on in all its bloated glory; and Norman himself has promised he has an “important story” to tell and that he will be telling it in the days to come.

So I won’t write “30” on this piece quite yet.

Here’s the updated version:


Vice-Admiral Mark Norman & The National Shipbuilding Strategy: A Timeline

2004: Paul Martin’s Liberal government attempts (unsuccessfully) to replace the Canadian Navy’s two aging supply ships (HMCS Preserver, commissioned 1969, and HMCS Protecteur, commissioned 1970).

2006: Stephen Harper’s Conservative government issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) to replace the (still aging) HMCS Preserver and HMCS Protecteur.

2008: Harper shuts the tender down on the eve of the election (which happened on 14 October 2008) as the bids exceed the government’s cost limits. In 2014, the Canadian Press will report that the federal government paid out as much as $8 million to “settle legal claims arising from the collapse of the first failed bid.”

 starboard bow view of the Canadian replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur (AOR 509) refueling the Canadian destroyer escort HMCS Nipigon (DDH 266) off its port side and the Portuguese frigate Almirante Magalhaes Correa (F 474) off its starboard side. 1982. (Photo by US Armed Forces via Wikimedia Commons)

Starboard bow view of the Canadian replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur refueling the Canadian destroyer escort HMCS Nipigon off its port side and the Portuguese frigate Almirante Magalhaes Correa off its starboard side. 1982. (Photo by US Armed Forces via Wikimedia Commons)



3 June 2010:  Conservatives under Stephen Harper introduce a 30-year, $38 billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) to renew the fleets of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) and the Canadian Navy. The strategy has three components:

  • a large-ship construction program (38 ships of more than 1,000 tonnage displacement, 23 for the Navy, 15 for the CCG; divided into combat and non-combat packages);
  • a small-ship construction program (116 ships of less than 1,000 tonnage displacement); and
  • a ship repair, refit and maintenance program.

The strategy has the stated goal of “sustain[ing] a strong and viable Canadian marine industry.”

20 September 2010: Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) issues a Solicitation of Interest and Qualification (SOIQ) inviting shipbuilders interested in participating in the large-ship construction to submit responses.

8 October 2010: The results of the qualification process are made public: five shipyards are shortlisted to participate in the Request for Proposals (RFP) stage:

Irving Shipyard, Halifax. (Source: Irving)

Irving Shipyard, Halifax. (Source: Irving)


7 February 2011: The large-vessel RFP is released. The deadline for submissions is 7 July 2011.

30 June 2011: The deadline for the RFP is extended by two weeks at the request of two competitors –Davie shipyard and Seaway Marine & Industrial, a subsidiary of Ontario’s Upper Lakes Marine. Upper Lakes Marine wants to buy the bankrupt Davie and submit a bid in a joint venture with SNC-Lavalin and South Korea’s Deawoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The Davie acquisition requires the approval of a Québec Superior Court. The extension is opposed by the other two bidders — Irving and Seaspan.

21 July 2011: The RFP closes. The court has ruled that Upper Lakes Marine may buy Davie’s assets. The government receives bids from Davie, Irving and Seaspan.

16 August 2011: Defense Minister Peter MacKay announces the word “Royal” will be returned to the names of the Canadian Navy and Air Force.

19 October 2011: The federal government announces large-ship construction contracts will be awarded to:

  • Irving — Combat package: 6 Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships; 15 Canadian Surface Combatants (to replace the RCN’s Halifax-class frigates and Iroquois-class destroyers). Estimated value $25 billion over 20-30 years.
  • Seaspan — Non-combat package: 2 Joint Supply Ships (RCN), 3 Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (CCG), 1 Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel (CCG), 1 Polar Icebreaker (CCG). Estimated value: $8 billion over 20-30 years.



February 2012: PWGSC signs “umbrella agreements” with Irving and Seaspan. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose describes the agreements as “long-term strategic sourcing arrangements that define the working relationships and administrative arrangements under which the government will negotiate fair and reasonable individual contracts.”

The agreements establish “target state” requirements for both shipyards to ensure they have the “capacity, facilities, processes and practices in place to ensure international productivity levels and rates of production are met.”

This means both shipyards will have to undertake major infrastructure modernization projects (“at no cost to Canada,” according to the federal government). The Seaspan yard in North Vancouver has chiefly produced barges and ferries and the Irving Yard (as the engineering firm Hatch will report after completing the project) basically has to be demolished to allow for the construction of new facilities. Or as Irving Shipybuilding President Kevin McCoy will tell reporters in 2016:

“Now I’ll tell you, starting a shipyard up from scratch … all new software, new training, over 700 new procedures in place, establishing a supply chain for shipbuilding in Canada, all of that is a significant challenge.”

March 2012: Nova Scotia’s NDP government under Darrell Dexter extends a $260 million forgivable loan and a $44 million repayable loan to Irving Shipyards in return for a promise to create 4,000 jobs. (Are the people of Nova Scotia not people of Canada? Did Irving not hear what Prime Minister Harper said about this not costing us anything?) The shipyard is also offered a $200 million loan guarantee which does not become public until 2016 at which point, the Liberals, under Stephen McNeil, say they will not honor it.

Autumn 2012: Shipyard modernization work worth an estimated $200 million begins at Seaspan. (Remember, the shipbuilding program is not just about building ships, it’s about building shipyards.)

Seaspan Shipyards, Vancouver. (Source: Seaspan)

Seaspan Shipyards, Vancouver. (Source: Seaspan)


27 February 2013: The supply ship HCMS Protecteur is seriously damaged by fire. off of Hawaii and must be towed home to Canada.

7 March 2013: Defense Minister Peter MacKay and Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose announce the government will pay Irving Shipyards $288 million just to design the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels.

2 May 2013: The CBC’s Terry Milewski reports that the government has already bought the design for the Norwegian boat the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels are to be based on for $5 million and, moreover, that the Norwegian ship, the Svalbard, was designed and built for less than $100 million in 2002. Milewski points to Denmark and Ireland as countries that have also designed and built similar ships for less than half the cost of the Canadian vessels. The government cannot explain the price difference.

21 August 2013: Irving announces the launch of modernization work worth an estimated $300 million then lays off workers.

25 October 2013: The Harper government announces plans for two new supply ships, the HMCS Queenston and HMCS Chateauguay, to be built by Seaspan as per the umbrella agreement.

Late 2013: An “independent evaluation, penned by retired colonel George Petrolekas and defence analyst Dave Perry” recommends the federal government buy a French Mistral-class landing ship and convert “at least two civilian-grade tankers into refuelling vessels” rather than spending $2.9 billion on two new ships. The report is ignored and the public knows nothing about it until the CBC’s Murray Brewster reports on in it in December 2014.

26 November 2013: Canada’s auditor general warns the Harper government has not budgeted adequately for replacing the country’s frigates and Arctic patrol vessels. Michael Ferguson says the budgets have not been revised or increased in over half a decade despite rising labor and material costs. Ferguson warns the strategy may not produce as many ships as promised.



19 September 2014: RCN Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, announces that both the Protecteur and the HMCS Preserver (corroded to the point that the “structural integrity of the ship” has been degraded “below acceptable limits”) will be retired early. HMCS Preserver serves as a floating oil barge until officially decommissioned in October 2016.

18 November 2014: Vice-Admiral Norman informs the House of Commons committee on national defense:

“The retirement of current refuellers and the delay in the construction of Joint Support Ships have led to capacity issues, which have a ripple effect. Owing to the capacity issues, Canada is unable to support and maintain those ships at sea if it needs to deploy them elsewhere.”

November 2014: Shipyard modernization work is completed at Seaspan which now claims to be “Canada’s most modern shipyard.”

The Sir John Franklin, an offshore fisheries science vessel, is nearing completion at Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards in North Vancouver. The ship will be launched Dec. 8 and then towed on Dec. 12 to Victoria, for final trials and testing. Two other similar vessels are also being built in North Vancouver. Photograph By HEATH MOFFATT PHOTOGRAPHY, SEASPAN

The Sir John Franklin, an offshore fisheries science vessel, under constructionat Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards in North Vancouver. (Photo by Heath Moffat Photography, Seaspan)



16 January 2015: The federal government reaches an agreement with Irving to build six Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels after increasing the estimated budget for the program from $3.1 billion to $3.5 billion. The CBC’s Murray Brewster reports:

The agreement is to construct six light icebreakers for the navy’s use in the North and off both coasts, but there will be a ceiling to the budget and officials acknowledge the number of ships could slip to five if the program runs into trouble.

January 2015: The federal government decides to lease a supply ship from a private firm (an idea “created” and “pitched unsolicited” by Davie in 2014). It receives proposals from Irving, Seaspan and Davie. 1

April 2015:  Senior civil servants want a competition for the job of converting an existing ship into a navy supply vessel but Defense Minister Jason Kenney sells Cabinet on the idea of giving the work to Davie. As well as arguing the Navy’s need for a supply ship, Kenney also makes the political argument that with elections approaching, the Lévis riding (held by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney) is an important one for the Conservatives to protect. 2

14 May 2015: HMCS Protecteur is decommissioned.

23 June 2015: Defense Minister Jason Kenney announces  the government is entering discussions with Davie Shipyard about acquiring an “interim” supply ship.

July 2015: The federal government arranges to lease supply ships, on a temporary basis, from Chile and Spain.

1 August 2015: Kenney announces his government has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Davie to “to continue discussions on pursuing an at-sea support services contract.” The deal is dubbed “Project Resolve.” Admiral Norman begins “regular email communication with Spencer Fraser, a former RCN officer who headed Federal Fleet, the Davie affiliate that would oversee Project Resolve.”3

3 September 2015: Irving begins construction of the first Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship.

September 2015: Public Works officials ask the Defense department to consider allowing the government to purchase the Project Resolve ship after the lease period is up, but Defense bureaucrats balk on the grounds that it could call into question the government’s shipbuilding plan.

8 October 2015: The MV Asterix, which Davie has bought for the Project Resolve conversion, arrives in its Québec shipyard.

19 October 2015: Federal elections result in a majority Liberal government under Justin Trudeau. The Liberals’ election platform includes promises to fix the “broken” procurement system and invest heavily in the navy.

Top: MS Asterix container ship, pre-conversion. Bottom: MS Asterix naval replenishment ship, post-conversion.

Top: MS Asterix container ship, pre-conversion. Bottom: MS Asterix naval replenishment ship, post-conversion.

17 November 2015: A letter from James D. Irving, the firm’s co-chief executive officer, is sent to four members of the new Liberal cabinet: Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Procurement Minister Judy Foote and Treasury Board President Scott Brison. Irving says the Davie deal was “done on a non-competitive basis without transparency” 4 Irving argues his firm had offered a lower-cost option. Seaspan sends its own interim proposal, leading, as the CBC’s James Cudmore would write, “to the bizarre situation of NSPS shipyards offering to build an interim supply ship for Canada that was only necessary because the NSPS program had yet to deliver supply ships.”

17 November 2015: Public servant Matthew Matchett emails Brian Mersereau of Hill+Knowlton to say, “I got everything — the motherload.” 5

18 November 2015: Mersereau receives copies of documents to be presented during the next day’s federal cabinet meeting, during which cabinet was to debate the plan to acquire a supply ship from Davie. 6

19 November 2015: During a federal cabinet meeting (which Vice-Admiral Norman does not attend) Project Resolve is put on hold for two months after Treasury Board President (and minister for Nova Scotia) Scott Brison presents the letter from Irving Shipbuilding and encourages his colleagues to pause the project with Davie.

Vice-Admiral Norman’s defense team will later argue that Brison was motivated by his close ties to the Irving family. Documents that will be released in November 2018 will include excerpts from Brison’s interview with the RCMP in which he claims the leak had a significant impact on the government’s ability to do its due diligence on the supply ship project. The defense will argue this testimony was key to the RCMP’s deciding to press charges against Norman, although it was contradicted by other members of cabinet.

19 November 2015: Spencer Fraser emails Alex Vicefield (head of Inocea which owns the Davie shipyard) and Davie official John Schmidt. The subject line reads, “From Mark” and the email says, of events unfolding around Project Resolve, “Most positive interpretation could be govt just unsure and asking questions; cynical view could be folks manipulating new govt to try to kill it. Not sure what the truth is.”

Fraser also tells them Cudmore has heard rumors about the Irving letter from somewhere inside government. 7

19 November 2015: Vicefield emails company executives and lobbyists about a request from public works to delay the Resolve deal. Postmedia’s David Pugliese will report on 12 January 2018 that Vicefield, suspecting Treasury Board President Scott Brison is behind the request, writes:

“If it does transpire to be that, I will do a full page plea in the Globe and Mail to Scott Brison asking that this Nova Scotia minister put his regional bias aside for matters of national security. …then I will lay off 400 guys next week.”8

20 November 2015: CBC reporter James Cudmore reports (based on leaked cabinet information) that Project Resolve has been delayed, pointing out that “The letter of intent signed by the government offers Davie $89-million if the finalized contract is not signed by Nov. 30.”

20 November 2015: Vice-Admiral Norman emails Spencer Fraser telling him that “CBC reporter [James] Cudmore had somehow obtained a copy of the Irving letter, ‘which shows they have been interfering.'” 9

25 November 2015: CBC reporter James Cudmore, citing “briefing materials prepared for some Liberal ministers” and “classified secret,” reports:

The government’s massive $39-billion national shipbuilding procurement strategy (NSPS) is in need of repair, with costs for some projects soaring by as much as 181 per cent and others on the cusp of being cancelled, according to briefing materials prepared for some Liberal ministers.

November 2015? In April 2017, the Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife and Steve Chase will report that following the publication of Cudmore’s story, Security Operations of the Privy Council Office launch an investigation into the source of the leaked classified information.

20 November 2015: Judy Foote, minister of what is now called Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), announces the Davie Shipyard will be granted the sole-source contract to provide a temporary supply ship for the navy.

1 December 2015: CBC reporter James Cudmore reports the price of building 15 new warships for the RCN has ballooned to more than $30 billion.

2 December 2015: Vice-Admiral Mark Norman confirms for the CBC’s James Cudmore that Canadians have not been given accurate information about the growing price of the navy’s new warships, which could cost as much as $30 billion:

Norman said the $26.2 billion total budget for 15 of the yet to be designed warships was set in 2008 and likely based then on numbers that were two years old. Still, they became locked in, and no one offered an update, not until today.



8 January 2016: James Cudmore leaves the CBC. (This is noted at the end of any of his articles still available online.)

12 January 2016: Postmedia’s David Pugliese reports James Cudmore is now working for Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan. His exact title is not known but later turns out to be “policy adviser.”

22 February 2016: Procurement Minister Foote announces the government has hired retired Royal Navy Rear Admiral Steve Brunton as Expert Adviser to the national shipbuilding program. Later that month, Brunton will issue a report (which will be made public by Postmedia’s David Pugliese in August 2018) suggesting the government does not fully understand “the level of risk” involved in the massive shipbuilding program.

February 2016: At some point during February 2016, the Davie shipyard submits an unsolicited bid to the federal government, offering to build a Polar Class 3 icebreaker, three “river-class” icebreakers and two multipurpose vessels worth, altogether, an estimated $1.1 billion. The Canadian Press will report on the bid on 10 March 2016, saying:

The pitch involves converting three different types of vessels which Davie already has under construction — or can be obtained on the international market “at highly affordable prices.”

4 March 2016: Irving invites the media to tour the “world’s most modern” shipyard.

11 March 2016: The federal government announces it will not entertain the Davie bid.

March 2016: The National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is renamed the National Shipbuilding Strategy (I don’t know if this was a suggestion from the “Expert Adviser” but I like to think it was.)

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert welcomes Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice Adm. Mark Norman for an office call at the Pentagon. (U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Julianne F. Metzger/Released)

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert (right) welcomes Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice Adm. Mark Norman (left) for an office call at the Pentagon. (U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Julianne F. Metzger, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

14 May 2016: Procurement Minister Foote says the federal Liberals inherited a “mess” when they took over the national shipbuilding plan. Foote makes the comment during a press conference at the Seaspan shipyard. in Vancouver, during which she announces an extra $30 million for the science vessel and an extra $35 million for the Joint Supply Ships under construction at the shipyard. Foote also takes the opportunity to chastise Davie for its “unsolicited bid” to provide vessels to Ottawa:

“Davie’s unsolicited bid was just that – an unsolicited bid. And we’ve indicated to Davie that we’re not open to receiving unsolicited bids,” Ms. Foote said.

25 May 2016: Minister Foote announces a “way forward” for the NSS and a “series of enhancements” to “strengthen” it, all of which make the National Shipbuilding Strategy sound like a hot mess:

  • Greater expertise and stronger oversight—Engaging an Expert Advisor and improving governance and communication with the shipyards.
  • Increased internal capacity—Hiring additional shipbuilding staff and increasing training.
  • More accurate planning—Introducing more accurate costing approaches.
  • Detailed monitoring—Implementing measures to track the performance of the shipyards.
  • Increased transparency and accountability—Regularly updating Canadians and parliamentarians with both annual and quarterly reports

May 2016: The RCMP raids the offices of Hill + Knowlton and Fleishman Hillard, lobbying firms that had worked for Davie, and the Davie offices with search warrants allowing them to collect emails and other information. At Hill + Knowlton, they find a Memorandum to Cabinet, marked “secret” in the office of Brian Mersereau but no indication it is linked to Norman.

13 June 2016: The Liberal government announces it will buy and modify an off-the-shelf design for the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) fleet to be  built by Irving rather than designing new ships from scratch. Minister Foote says the move will cut two years off the time it will take to get the ships into the water.

27 June 2017: Federal procurement official Matthew Matchett’s security clearance is withdrawn.

27 October 2016: The federal government invites “pre-qualified companies” to submit proposals for the design of the Canadian Surface Combatant fleet. A press release notes “the Government of Canada and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. consulted extensively with industry to develop the RFP and will jointly evaluate the bids.” The deadline for bids is 27 April 2017.

November 2016: At some point during the month, the Privy Council Office produces a 210-page report on the leak of classified cabinet information about Project Resolve a year earlier. The report does not identify the source of the leak. The Globe and Mail’s Robert Fife and Steve Chase will later report that it is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who now pushes for an RCMP probe.

16 November 2016: The RCMP launch a surveillance operation against Norman, stationing a police officer outside his house in Orléans, a suburb of Ottawa. 10.



9 January 2017: Seven police officers raid Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s home. They stay in the house for six hours, seizing a desktop computer, a laptop, two cell phones and three iPads (one owned by Norman’s wife). Norman’s defenders will later argue the RCMP, which had a warrant to seize DND files and related materials, overstepped itself by seizing “thousands of pieces of personal effects” from the Norman family. 11

9 January 2017: General Jonathan Vance meets with RCMP and other security officials for briefing on Norman investigation. He then meets with the Defense Minister and with PMO staffers including Katie Telford and Gerald Butts and has a brief phone call with Trudeau.

Marie Henien (Source: Henein Hutchison

Marie Henien (Source: Henein Hutchison)

13 January 2017: General Jonathan Vance, chief of the defense staff, suspends Norman from his command, appointing Admiral Ron Lloyd as acting vice-chief of the defense staff. In a formal letter, Vance writes he has lost confidence in Norman without saying why. 12

16 January 2017: News of Norman’s suspension becomes public but neither the Canadian Forces nor the Prime Minister will say why Norman has been suspended.

24 January 2017: Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan finally speaks publicly about Norman’s suspension but says only it was not due to national security concerns.

16 February 2017: The Government of Canada “and Irving Shipbuilding Inc” extends the Request for Proposals deadline for the design of the Canadian Surface Combatant fleet from 27 April 2017 to 22 June 2017.

23 February 2017: Although yet to face any charges, Norman retains high-profile Canadian criminal lawyer Marie Henein to represent him. Heinen issues a statement denying Norman has done anything illegal.

27 March 2017: Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan promotes senior policy advisor James Cudmore to director of policy.

6 April 2017: Prime Minister Trudeau, asked about the Norman case, tells journalists:

“This is an important matter that is obviously under investigation, and will likely end up before the courts, so I won’t make any further comments at this time.”

Postmedia’s David Pugilese asks the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) how Trudeau knows the case was going to trial. The PMO won’t comment.

21 April 2017: Ontario Superior Court Justice Kevin Phillips lifts a publication ban and unseals much of a redacted RCMP affidavit used to obtain the warrant to search Norman’s house. Robert Fife and Steven Chase of the Globe and Mail report that:

In the unredacted sections, the RCMP accuse Vice-Adm. Norman of criminal breach of trust for leaking government secrets, an allegation that arises from a 16-month investigation into how cabinet deliberations were passed on to Quebec’s Chantier-Davie Canada Inc. shipyard, which has a contract to provide a temporary naval supply ship.

In dismissing Norman’s legal counsel’s concerns that publication of the allegations in the RCMP search warrant could jeopardize Norman’s chances of getting a fair trial, Phillips writes:

“Nowhere is there any suggestion that the man was even thinking of trying to line his own pockets, or get any personal advantage whatsoever.

“In my view, the mindset and alleged communications arising from it is hardly the stuff of stigma or moral turpitude. At its highest, it appears that the potential allegation against Vice-Admiral Norman is that he was trying to keep a contractual relationship together so that the country might get a badly needed supply ship.”

5 June 2017: The Government of Canada “and Irving Shipbuilding Inc” extend the deadline for submissions for the Canadian Surface Combatant RFP from 22 June 2017 to “no sooner than mid-August 2017.”

BAE Systems' Type 26 Frigate (Source: BAE Systems)

BAE Systems’ Type 26 Frigate (Source: BAE Systems)

23 August 2017: Procurement Minister Judy Foote steps down from cabinet.

28 August 2017: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffles his cabinet, moves Carla Qualtrough from sport and persons with disabilities to public services and procurement.

20 November 2017: The Canadian government rejects Vice-Admiral Norman’s request for financial assistance with his legal fees because, as Postmedia’s David Pugliese will report on 22 January 2018, “it has determined the senior officer is guilty of disclosing confidential information…”

27 November 2017: Britain’s BAE Systems — in partnership with Lockheed Martin Canada, CAE, L-3 Technologies, Macdonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. and Ultra Electronics —  submit the first bid to design and build the RCN’s new frigates, offering its Type 26 warship design. Construction is not expected to begin until 2020, raising fears there will be a gap in production at the Irving Shipyards after completion of the Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels.

30 November 2017: The RFP for the design of the Canadian Surface Combatant fleet closes.

30 November 2017: Italy’s Fincantieri and France’s Naval Group bypass the CSC RFP process and make what a spokesman for the French company calls “a spontaneous offer” to the Canadian government of 15 FREMM multimission frigates at a fixed-cost of $30 billion with delivery of the first ship by fall 2019.

Pierre Tan, reporting the offer in the US-based Defense News on December 4, will say the European consortium’s offer was “part of a strategy to protect intellectual property rights on the technology” (technical details must be shared with Irving, which is helping evaluate the bids) and “overcome a perceived preference by Irving for BAE Systems’ offer.”

5 December 2017: The Canadian government rejects the Fincantieri/Naval Group offer. The PSPC says in a statement:

“The submission of an unsolicited proposal at the final hour undermines the fair and competitive nature of this procurement suggesting a sole source contracting arrangement. Acceptance of such a proposal would break faith with the bidders who invested time and effort to participate in the competitive process, put at risk the Government’s ability to properly equip the Royal Canadian Navy and would establish a harmful precedent for future competitive procurements.”

8 December 2017: Seaspan launches the first of three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels to be built at the Vancouver shipyard the OFSV1 (which will be renamed the Sir John Franklin in what I really hope will not become a tradition of naming Coast Guard vessels after captains who abandon their ships in the ice, then starve to death). The vessel is billed as “the first large vessel designed and built under Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.” Immediately following the launch, the shipyard lays off approximately 200 trades workers.

8 December 2017: Davie lays off 281 workers, citing a lack of government contracts in the wake of the completion of the MV Asterix (the Project Resolve ship). Davie had proposed converting a second supply ship, the Obelix but the government rejected the idea. Davie, which had earlier laid off 113 workers, threatens further layoffs.

23 December 2017: The MV Asterix  leaves the Davie shipyard in Québec  for Halifax where it will “begin integration training during the month of January 2018 prior to supporting Canadian naval operations from February 2018, for the next 10 years.”



19 January 2018: During a visit to Québec, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces the Coast Guard will enter into negotiations with Davie for the purchase of icebreakers — an arrangement proposed by Davie (which apparently ignored Minister Foote’s warnings about “unsolicited bids.”)

22 January 2018: Postmedia’s David Pugliese reports the Canadian government has turned down Vice-Admiral Norman’s request for assistance with his legal fees.

22 January 2018:  Retired army colonel Lee Hammond launches a gofundme campaign to cover Vice-Admiral Norman’s legal bills which attracts a number of high-profile donors, including Former Defense Minister Jason Kenney, former Harper chief of staff Ian Brodie and retired major-general Lew MacKenzie. The campaign will raise $163,620 of a $200,000 goal in nine months.

23 January 2018: A memo to the deputy minister of finance (which will be obtained and made public by the CBC in August 2018) notes there has been no “tangible progress” in ship construction in 2017, warns of impending production gaps at Seaspan and Irving (see previous entry) and raises the need for a “policy refresh.”

2 February 2018: Prime Minister Trudeau, responding to a question from a member of the public at an Edmonton town hall meeting, describes Norman’s case as “very much underway in terms of investigation and inevitably court processes.” At this point, Norman has been charged with nothing and has not been interviewed by the RCMP.

9 March 2018: The RCMP charges Vice-Admiral Norman with breach of trust. If found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison.

16 March 2018: David Pugliese of Postmedia reports that James Cudmore is leaving his Defense Ministry post for a job with the Office of the Minister of Democratic Institutions.

10 April 2018: Vice-Admiral Norman makes his first court appearance and first public comment on the breach of trust charge he faces:

I’m anxious to get to court, get this dealt with as quickly as possible, and get back to serving the people of Canada. Thank you very much.”

31 May 2018: Seaspan announces that “work will begin soon” on the Joint Supply Ships.

5 June 2018: An official in Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the estimated cost for building those two Joint Supply Ships has risen by $1.1 billion to $3.4 billion.

22 June 2018: The government agrees to sole-source the purchase of three, refitted icebreakers from Davie Shipbilding for $610 million as a stop-gap until replacements can be built but the Coast Guard later admits the “interim” vessels will probably be used for decades as the only icebreaker in the NSS pipeline — the Polar Icebreaker commissioned from Seaspan — won’t be ready for a decade. The CBC’s Murray Brewster had earlier pointed out that the deal with Davie is very similar to the one at the heart of Vice-Admiral Norman’s legal woes.

27 June 2018: Eighteen months after being suspended, Vice-Admiral Norman is removed from his position as the military’s second in command. A DND spokesperson says Norman will be “moved to a supernumerary position within the defence chief’s office…where he will continue to serve as a member of the Forces until the court case plays out.”

By WayeMason (Took photo from road outside shipyard) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

HMCS Harry DeWolf under construction. (Photo by WayeMason. Taken from road outside shipyard. CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

13 August 2018: In response to the Davie icebreaker deal, Irving issues a press release:

“We call upon the federal government to confirm to Irving Shipbuilding, our shipbuilders and their families, the province of Nova Scotia, and all Atlantic Canadians that the National Shipbuilding Strategy remains intact and, therefore, construction of the ships for Canada’s navy and coast guard will be done exclusively by Irving Shipbuilding and Vancouver Shipyards.”

13 August 2018: The federal government tells firms bidding on what is now estimated at between $55 billion and $60 billion Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) contract they will have a second opportunity to fix problems with their bids. Postmedia’s David Pugliese will report a week later that the change “has sparked more concerns the process is rigged” to favor a bid by Lockheed Martin Canada and Britain’s BAE:

Rival firms claim BAE’s Type 26 warship won’t be able to meet Canada’s needs, so the company, which has been involved in other business ventures with Irving, is being given additional chances to fix up its proposal.

16 August 2018: The CBC’s Murray Brewster reports that the “first civilian ship built under the federal government’s marquee shipbuilding program will have portions of its hull re-welded because an inspection has uncovered a series of defective joints.” The vessel in question, the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir John Franklin, was built at the Seaspan shipyard and is not yet in service.

4 September 2018: Norman appears in an Ottawa court in full dress uniform to hear that his trial is scheduled to start on 19 August 2019 and is expected to last seven or eight weeks with a week’s break in the middle. Postmedia’s Brian Platt notes that the timing of the trial, which will play out not long before the 21 October 2019 federal election, is at the defense’s request.

15 September 2018: Irving launches the Harry DeWolf, the first of the Harry DeWolf-class Arctic offshore patrol ships.

12 October 2018: Documents filed with an Ottawa court show Vice-Admiral Norman’s defense intend to “probe the actions” of Treasury Board president Scott Brison as they try to clear Norman’s name. Postmedia’s David Pugliese reports:

Norman’s lawyers claim Brison, a Nova Scotia MP, is close to Atlantic Canada’s wealthy and powerful Irving family. Their shipbuilding firm had submitted its own proposal to provide a supply ship, which the Conservative government had rejected in favour of Davie’s bid. “It will be the defence’s position that Minister Brison was behind the effort to delay and potentially terminate the Davie agreement,” the documents state.

The court filings also, according to the CBC’s Murray Brewster, contend that:

“The RCMP’s investigation discovered that a government employee, Matthew Matchett, gave a lobbyist then working for Davie the classified Memorandum to Cabinet (“MC”) and slide deck relating to the Liberal Government’s November 19, 2015 iAOR Cabinet committee meeting.”

Matchett, Brewster reports, is the assistant director, industrial benefits, for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He faces no charges.

13 October 2018: Members of Unifor Marine Workers Federation Local 1, which represents about 1,000 Irving shipbuilders, launch a campaign to keep the maintenance of Halifax-class frigates in Nova Scotia, saying the federal government has recently made comments suggesting it plans to move some work to Davie.

14 October 2018: The RCMP confirm that the probe into the  alleged leak of cabinet shipbuilding secrets did not stop at Vice-Admiral Norman and is ongoing.

14 October 2018: Matthew Matchett is suspended without pay.

16 October 2018: Postmedia’s David Pugliese reports that Irving is pushing the government to both leave all Halifax-class frigate maintenance in Halifax and order two more Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels. Told that Irving workers feared layoffs if maintenance work was shared with his shipyard, Davie official Frédérik Boisvert says:

“If they [Irving] are concerned about Nova Scotian jobs, they should explain to their union workers why they are building their own tugs in Eastern Europe.”

19 October 2018: The Canadian government selects the BAE consortium’s Type 26 warship design for the 15-vessel Canadian Surface Combatant fleet. The decision is not without controversy as Irving has been involved in the selection process and is rumored to favor BAE, with which it has other business dealings. Critics also note that while the original brief called for a “mature” design, the BAE/Lockheed Martin Canada consortium was allowed to submit its Type 26 warship which  “existed only on the drawing board” at the time it was submitted.

1 November 2018: Procurement and Public Services Canada announces it will divide $7 billion in maintenance work in support of the navy’s 12 Halifax-class frigates  between the Irving, Seaspan and Davie shipyards.

2 November 2018: Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan announces that Irving will build a sixth Arctic offshore patrol vessel for the RCN.

2 November 2018: The Crown, the defense and a lawyer representing seven federal departments appear before a judge to update him on the battle over the release of cabinet documents relevant to Vice-Admiral Norman’s case. Norman’s lawyers tell an Ontario court that lawyers for Irving Shipbuilding are seeking standing in an upcoming hearing to decide which confidential and secret Cabinet records may be turned over to Norman’s defense team.

The federal government agrees to allow the judge to review approximately 135,000 pages of documents related to decide which are relevant to the case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.

6 November 2018: The CBC’s Paul Withers reports the Canadian Coast Guard hopes to “squeeze another five years of service” from the 55-year-old science vessel Hudson. Reports Withers:

CCGS Hudson was supposed to be replaced as early as 2014 as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy. But the project to build the replacement at Vancouver’s Seaspan shipyard still has no budget, confirmed construction start date or timeline for completion.

16 November 2018: Alion Science and Technology appeals the selection of BAE/Lockheed Martin for the contract to build 15 Canadian Surface Combatant vessels. Alion, which proposed a design based on a Dutch frigate, claims the BAE/Lockheed Martin design does not meet the mandatory requirements for the vessels set in the RFP. (A bid was also received from Navantia/Saab/CEA Technologies whose proposal was based on the Spanish Navy F-105 frigate.) Alion’s appeal is made both to the federal courts and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal.

23 November 2018: Hundreds of pages of police interview transcripts, internal federal documents and media clippings related to Vice-Admiral Norman’s trial are released after Crown attorneys lose a bid in Ontario Superior Court to prevent their public disclosure. The documents, according to the National Post‘s Brian Platt, provide the first detailed look at the case Norman’s lawyers will present to counter the RCMP’s charge that Norman leaked documents related to a 19 November 2015 cabinet meeting to the press:

That meeting saw Liberal ministers decide to delay the [supply ship] project while they sought more information. Word of their decision immediately leaked to the media and, amid the resulting public scrutiny, the government soon reversed course. Furious over the leak, the government launched an internal probe; when that failed to turn up answers, it referred the file to the RCMP for a criminal investigation, resulting earlier this year in a single charge against Norman.

Norman’s lawyers argue the leak — specifically to CBC reporter James Cudmore — came not from Norman, but from [Matthew] Matchett through Mersereau. They argue Cudmore had already received the cabinet materials by the time he contacted Norman for his story, which ran the morning of Nov. 20. [See note for 17 November 2015]

27 November 2018: The Canadian International Trade Tribunal considering Alion Science and Technology’s appeal orders the federal government to “postpone the awarding of any contract … until the Tribunal determines the validity of the herein complaint.”

6 December 2018: A PSPC representative tells the House of Commons government operations committee that Matthew Matchett has been suspended from his federal government job. The representative did not say when Matchett, who faces no charges, was suspended.

7 December 2018: Citing just-released court documents, the CBC’s Murray Brewster summarizes the Crown’s case against Vice-Admiral Norman:

The Crown alleges Norman leaked information — including behind-the-scenes details related to the supply ship program and the cabinet discussions about it — to an executive at the Davie Shipyard in Levis, Que., using his personal Gmail account.

The leaks, according to court records, started on Oct. 3, 2014 and continued into November 2015, when the future of the project was hanging in the balance.

Brewster notes that proving breach of trust will require proving “not only criminal intent but also personal benefit to the accused.”

10 December 2018: The Canadian International Trade Tribunal rescinds its order to the Canadian government to postpone the awarding of a contract to design the country’s $60 billion fleet of warships. CP’s Lee Berthaume reports the order was rescinded, “after the federal procurement department warned against delaying the warship project..

12-18 December 2018: Pre-Trial Hearing for Vice-Admiral Mark Norman

Scott Brison. (Source: Government of Canada website

Scott Brison. (Source: Government of Canada website)

12 December 2018: The pre-trial hearing for Vice-Admiral Norman takes place in Ottawa with Justice Heather Perkins-McVey presiding. Vice-Admiral Norman’s counsel, Marie Henein, accuses the Crown of withholding important documents. A Justice Department paralegal testifies that the documents are still being “vetted.”

13 December 2018: Defense lawyer Christine Mainville, arguing for the release of documents – including memos, letters, meeting agendas and more – related to the supply-ship deal, says they will show her client had not gone “rogue” but “was in fact supporting and working with members of cabinet and facilitating the will of elected officials.”

14 December 2018: Crown attorney Mark Covan fights to prevent the release of thousands of government documents demanded by Vice-Admiral Norman’s defense team, arguing they are “irrelevant” to the case. Marie Henein asserts that the Liberal government has been closely following the Norman case, saying she has a “variety of information” that suggests there are “explicit discussions” between the PCO and the PMO “about the timing of this trial as it affects the next federal election.”

18 December 2018: Vice-Admiral Norman’s defense team calls two surprise witnesses. The first — a “military member” whose name is protected by a publication ban – tells the court the Department of National Defense avoided using Norman’s name in correspondence in what Norman’s lawyer Marie Henein argues may have been an attempt to bury information about his case. Or as Scott Taylor of Esprit de Corps put it:

Last Tuesday, a witness at the pre-trial hearing of Vice Admiral Mark Norman dropped a bombshell when he told the court that senior DND officials had deliberately omitted Norman’s name from key documents in order to avoid a paper trail. In other words, an alleged cover-up in this case was pre-meditated and intentional.

The second is Melissa Burke, a former Privy Council Office policy analyst, who was involved in the navy’s plans to lease an interim supply ship and who testifies that political considerations were very much front and center in the debate over the supply ship contract. [See note for April 2015]

25 December 2018: The CBC’s Murray Brewster reports that the federal government and Irving Shipbuilding are both asking the trade tribunal to throw out Alion’s appeal on the grounds that, as an American company, Alion does not meet the requirements for a tribunal hearing. (The appeal was lodged by Alion’s Canadian subsidiary, but the government and Irving argue it was the American parent company, not the subsidiary, that qualified as a bidder in the design competition.) The government and Irving also argue that the contract is exempt from normal trade laws because of a “national security exception.”



10 January 2019: Treasury Board President Scott Brison quits the cabinet and announces he will not be running in the next federal elections. Questioned by reporters, Brison said the court case against Vice-Admiral Norman had no bearing on his decision.

16 January 2019: The gofundme campaign to raise money for Vice-Admiral Norman’s defense has reached its initial goal and established a new one of $300,000. It has raised $262,878 from 1,990 people over 11 months.

29 January 2019: In a third-party, pre-trial hearing, Henein unveils a list of acronyms and other terms military officials used instead of Norman’s name, like “the boss,” “N3,” and “C34.” The list was compiled by the DOD. Under questioning, Chief of the Defense Staff General Jonathan Vance says that unless officials were specifically instructed to use these as search terms, subpoenas from Norman’s defence team may not have turned up documents that used those phrases.

30 January 2019: On day two of the third-party, pre-trial hearing, Vance testifies he kept no records of discussions he had with the prime minister and other senior political officials after he suspended Vice-Admiral Norman.

31 January 2019: During the third-party pre-trial hearing, Henein says the defense will bring an abuse of process motion in March.

7 February 2019: Paperwork is signed in Ottawa between the Liberal government, Lockheed Martin Canada, BAE Systems, Inc., and Irving Shipbuilding (prime contractor) on a $185 million design contract for 15 warships.

8 February 2019: Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough announces the federal government has awarded a $185 million shipbuilding design contract for 15 Canadian warships to Lockheed Martin Canada. The design work is expected to take up to four years, the ships are to be constructed by the Irving shipyard in Halifax, beginning in 2023. (During the announcement Irving co-CEO Jim Irving inadvertently suggests how much influence he has over the Canadian government when he tells gathered workers that he “told the minister in advance to keep the speeches short.”) The design project is part of a $60 billion project based on the British-designed Type 26 frigate.

BAE Systems' Type 26 Frigate (Source: BAE Systems)

BAE Systems’ Type 26 Frigate (Source: BAE Systems)

12 February 2019: Lawyers contacted by Postmedia estimate the costs of the Norman prosecution, to date, at $10 to $15 million. The Department of Justice says it will not be making the costs public.

13 February 2019: Federal procurement official Matthew Matchett is charged with one count of breach of trust in relation to the cabinet leak. He is accused of passing cabinet documents — a memo and a slide deck presentation — to an Ottawa lobbyist working for the Davie shipyard in 2015.

22 February 2019: Marie Henein asks that certain records requested from government be prioritized, zeroing in on those related to five people: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his former principal secretary Gerald Butts, his chief of staff Katie Telford, the clerk of the privy council Michael Wernick (who has since resigned) and the former issues manager in the PMO (now chief of staff to Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan) Zita Astravas. Henein told the court the defense had yet to receive “a single document” from the subpoenas filed in October 2018.

24 February 2019: Ultra Electronics Maritime Systems signs a sub-contract with Lockheed Martin Canada to provide sonar systems for the Canadian Surface Combatant program.

3 March 2019: Postmedia’s David Pugliese reports that Vice-Admiral Norman is one of only three three individuals over the past two years whose request to the Defense Department for financial help with legal bills was rejected:

The department received requests from 41 military officers and public servants over the past two years to cover their legal bills and is doing so for 38…

The DND rejected Norman’s request for financial assistance in 2017 as it claimed the senior officer was guilty of disclosing confidential information. Government officials reached that stunning conclusion — contained in a justice department letter leaked to Postmedia — even though Norman had not been charged at the time and no formal internal investigation was carried out by the Canadian Forces or the DND.

5 March 2019: Matthew Matchett appears in court and pleads not guilty

6 March 2019: Emails and text messages sent by Trudeau and his senior staffers related to the Norman case are delivered to the Ontario Superior Court. Henein threatens to ask court to subpoena Gerald Butts, Michael Wernick and Privy Council Office (PCO) lawyer Paul Shuttle to testify if they don’t produce all relevant documents. Henein also says that in light of the unfolding SNC-Lavalin scandal she wants to see any communications between the Privy Council and former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould about the Norman case.

6 March 2019: Following a tip, Postmedia’s David Pugliese submits questions to two federal departments — National Defense and Public Services and Procurement Canada — about possible problems with the welding on the HMCS Harry DeWolf. Just over an hour later, before the government has responded, Pugliese hears from a representative of the Irving Shipyards, who says he has been made aware of the inquiry and wants to discuss it. Irving Shipbuilding President Kevin McCoy then telephones to threaten Pugliese with legal action should he write “something false about our reputation.” Pugliese says this is the third time information about Postmedia’s investigations has been shared with the defense industry. DND later confirms “minor” problems with welding. Pugliese says both ministries are investigating potential violations of privacy laws in relation to the sharing of his information.

18 March 2019: Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick submits his resignation.

19 March 2019: Matthew Matchett’s lawyer Matthew Day reveals Matchett was told roughly two years ago that he was a suspect in the cabinet leak investigation. Day says they have yet to see the evidence against his client.

21 March 2019: The gofundme campaign to raise money for Vice-Admiral Norman’s defense has reached its second goal of $300,000 and set a new one of $500,000. As of this date, it had reached $341,419.

10 April 2019: Vice-Admiral Norman’s defense team accuses the Department of Justice of tweeting inaccurate information about the court’s proceedings.

13 May 2019: Former Defense Minister Peter MacKay tells the CBC’s Murray Brewster that Norman was acting “with cabinet authority” when he approached the Davie shipyard about building a supply ship:

“Having taken the decision that we did via cabinet committee, and, therefore, giving Mark Norman the green light to proceed, he would have had [the] authority to speak to the Davie shipyard,” MacKay said.

Brewster says it is not clear whether the Mounties or the Crown knew this before laying the breach-of-trust charge against Norman. Brewster says the information would have been “contained in a pile of Conservative-era cabinet documents that the current Liberal government fought to keep secret.”

8 May 2019: The Public Prosecution Service of Canada withdraws the single charge of breach of trust against Vice-Admiral Norman, saying that new information introduced by Norman’s defence team (which lead prosecutor Barbara Mercier declines to describe to the media) convinced the prosecution there was no longer a reasonable chance of conviction.

The prosecution says Norman’s actions were inappropriate and secretive but not criminal.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the federal government will pay Norman’s legal fees (although a private crowdsourcing campaign has raised $400,000).

Mercier insists there was no political interference in the case.

Norman says during a press conference:

I am confident that at all times I acted with integrity, I acted ethically and I acted in the best interests of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Forces and, ultimately, the people of Canada.

Norman said he has an “important story” to tell Canadians, which he will be sharing in the coming days.

14 May 2019: The House of Commons unanimously agrees to apologize to Vice-Admiral Norman.

22 May 2019: Prime Minister Trudeau announces Canada will build up to 18 new Coast Guard vessels at a cost of $15.7 billion. Up to 16 of the ships will be built by Seaspan, while the Irving Shipyards will build two others modify two Arctic patrol ships.

Trudeau also announces a competitive process for the design of a new class of mid-shore multi-mission vessels.

The government also announces its intention to add a third Canadian shipyard as a partner under the NSS.

21 June 2019: The Parliament Budget Office says the 15 warships to be built by the Irving Shipyards will cost almost $70 billon, a substantial increase over the project’s initial $26 billion price tag. The PBO warns the cost could change further depending on the final design and when they actually get built.

26 June 2019: The DND announces that Norman has reached a settlement with the federal government and will retire from the military, although the CBC reports he had “indicated that he wanted to return to his post.” Details of the settlement, overseen by “a former Ontario Court of Appeal Justice,” were not revealed.

16 July 2019: The feds split a $1 billlion warship repair contract between the Seaspan and Chantier Davie shipyards, each of which receives a $500-million contract for maintenance work on the country’s fleet of 12 Halifax-class frigates.

28 June 2019: Seaspan delivers first Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel (OFSV), the CCGS Sir John Franklin, to the Canadian Coast Guard. Initially due to be completed in 2017, the vessel is the first to be completed under the NSS.

2 August 2019: The federal government issues an Invitation to Qualify to add a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic partner under the NSS, according to the press release, ” This new shipyard will build the new program icebreakers for the Coast Guard.” Interested suppliers have 15 days to respond.

9 August 2019: Court check-in on Mark Matchett case.

19 August 2019: The trial of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman is scheduled to begin in Ottawa.

October 23-25 2019: Scheduled start to preliminary inquiry in Mark Matchett case.

29 October 2019:  The CBC’s Murray Brewster reports that Conservative senators intend to press for details on the federal government’s settlement with Vice-Admiral Mark Norman when parliament returns after the federal election. Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais, the head of the Conservative Senate caucus, says the subject will be the first on his agenda:

“It’s a very simple question,” he said. “It’s in the interest of Canadians. You pay taxes. I pay taxes. How much did we pay for this gentleman’s agreement?”

Dagenais has long complained about the secrecy surrounding the settlement and wrote directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the case last July.

1 November 2019:  Mark Matchett’s case is put on hold. The National Post’s Brian Platt explains that proceedings have been temporarily halted while the courts grapple with the effects of the federal government’s Bill C-75. The bill, passed in June in an effort to reduce court delays, allows preliminary inquiries only for crimes with a maximum sentence of 14 years. Matchett had originally chosen a trial by jury with a preliminary inquiry, but his charge (breach of trust) carries a maximum of five years. The question is whether Bill C-75 applies to charges laid before the bill’s passage. The Ontario Superior Court ruled in October that the provisions would apply retroactively to the province’s lower courts, which would mean Matchett’s preliminary hearing would not go forward. That ruling was brought before the Ontario Court of Appeal, and after arguments were heard on 28 October, a ruling on the appeal is pending. As Platt points out, Matchett’s case is of interest largely because of what it might reveal about (Retired) Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s case:

Norman’s legal team had alleged political interference in the case and were taking aim at the highest ranks of the Liberal government, subpoenaing communications from senior government officials and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But with the case being dropped, that material was never disclosed in court. Norman has since signed a confidential settlement with the government, meaning Matchett’s case may be the only way more details about the leak investigation become public.

10 December 2019: Seaspan Shipyards deliver the second of three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels (OFSVs) under the NSS, the CCGS Jacques Cartier.

27 November 2019: Scheduled start to Mark Matchett’s trial on one count of breach of trust. 

3 December 2019: Former Liberal Cabinet Minister Scott Brison announces he is to become the new chancellor of Dalhousie University, in Halifax, NS:




  1. Pugliese, David. “Man Overboard.” National Post. (accessed 5 November 2018).
  2. Partial transcript of 2016 RCMP interview with policy analyst Melissa Burke released in 2018 as part of court proceedings against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
  3. Pugliese, David. “Man Overboard.” National Post. (accessed 5 November 2018).
  4. ibid
  5. Detail from Mersereau’s RCMP testimony as reported in the National Post, 28 November 2018
  6. Pugliese, David. “Man Overboard.” National Post. (accessed 5 November 2018).
  7. ibid
  8. ibid
  9. ibid
  10. ibid
  11. ibid
  12. ibid