Canada’s Vice Chief of Defence Staff Relieved of Duty
By DAVID PUGLIESE, Special Correspondent
VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Canadian military and Royal Canadian Navy have been shaken to its core with the removal of its second highest-ranking officer and allegations of a leak of classified material.
In an unprecedented move, Vice Adm. Mark Norman, the vice chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS), was removed from his command, effective Jan. 16. Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance signed a Jan. 13 letter temporarily removing Norman from his military duties.
Vice Adm. Ron Lloyd, the current head of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), has been put in to Norman’s position.
Vance’s spokesman, Lt. Col. Jason Proulx, said in an email statement that Lloyd would do both his job as head of the RCN as well as fill the position of vice chief.
Proulx declined to detail what prompted Vance to relieve Norman. “The CDS has temporarily relieved the VCDS, VAdm Mark Norman, from the performance of military duty,” he stated. “For the time being, he will not be carrying out the functions of VCDS.”
Proulx did not indicate how long that situation would last. Norman has not commented.
The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Jan. 17 that Norman’s removal had to do with the alleged leak of classified documents. The RCMP has been investigating the leak for several months, according to the newspaper.
The Department of National Defence has declined to comment on that claim.
Norman was named vice chief of the Defence Staff on Aug. 5. He had been given the task to prepare the Canadian Armed Forces for the future by cutting bureaucracy and finding more efficient ways to run the military.
Norman joined the RCN in 1980 and has climbed the command ladder over the years. He has served as director, General Maritime Force Development, in 2010; deputy commander of the RCN in 2011; and, in 2013, was named commander of the RCN.
Norman is a well-liked and respected officer. Vance selected him for the VCDS job, and at this swearing-in ceremony on Aug. 5, the general told the assembled audience that Norman was “an officer and a leader made for this moment.”
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan issued a terse statement Jan. 16, noting, “I fully support the decision taken by the CDS to relieve the VCDS from the performance of military duty.”
Sajjan did not provide any additional details.
Norman’s removal comes in the midst of a government-ordered defense review in which the course of the military is being planned for the future.