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Mark Norman's lawyers target government over solicitor-client privilege claims

Vice Admiral Mark Norman arrives at court in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — Lawyers for Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and the federal government are back in court fighting over dozens of documents, including memos to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from the country’s top bureaucrat, Michael Wernick.

The government wants to keep that memo and numerous other documents secret, saying they represent legal advice and are covered by solicitor-client privilege.

Norman’s legal team says federal lawyers have applied solicitor-client privilege too broadly, also noting that neither Trudeau nor Wernick are lawyers.

Justice Heather Perkins-McVey will determine whether the privilege has been properly applied and, if so, whether the documents should nonetheless be disclosed to ensure Norman gets a fair trial.

Norman’s legal team believe the documents will boost their case for why the breach-of-trust charge against Norman has been tainted by political interference and should therefore be tossed.

Norman served as the military’s second-in-command before being suspended and charged last year for allegedly leaking government secrets about a $700-million shipbuilding deal. He has denied any wrongdoing.

The Canadian Press