OTTAWA — Federal Crown prosecutors will reportedly drop their breach-of-trust case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman on Wednesday, ending one of the most politically charged cases in Canadian history.

Norman’s case was to be back in court for an update on his lawyers’ efforts to secure hundreds of secret government documents about their client, including several from the Prime Minister’s Office.

But sources have confirmed to The Canadian Press that prosecutors are expected to instead withdraw the breach of trust charge against Norman, which the RCMP laid against him last year following a two-year investigation.

The charge relates to allegations that Norman leaked government secrets to a Quebec shipyard and a journalist to influence cabinet’s decision-making around a nearly $700-million naval contract.

The contract, negotiated by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government and finalized by Justin Trudeau’s newly minted Liberal government in 2015, called for the conversion and lease of a temporary support ship to the navy.

Norman, who was suspended as the military’s second-in-command in January 2017 because of the RCMP investigation, has maintained that he did nothing wrong.

His lawyers have instead argued that the case against Norman is politically motivated and have spent the past several months fighting in pre-trial hearings for access to various government documents to prove their argument.

It is not clear why prosecutors are planning to withdraw the charge against Norman, who remains a member of the Canadian Forces pending the outcome of the case.

The case against Norman has been politically damaging for the Liberals. It was expected to become even more so once the actual trial started in mid-August. It was to run through most of the federal election.

News of the Crown’s reported plan to drop its case against Norman comes only days after revelations that Norman’s lawyers had listed outgoing Liberal MP and retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie as a potential defence witness.

Former cabinet minister Scott Brison, who recently quit politics, was also listed as a potential Crown witness while Gen. Jonathan Vance appeared in the witness box during a pre-trial hearing in January, underlining the political significance of the case.


The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press